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IDAHOT 2014 mobilisations confirming May 17 as biggest annual LGBTI mobilisation moment

IDAHOT 2014 Communiqué

Events were confirmed in over 120 countries – Main global leaders released public statements

Today, 2.8 billion people worldwide live in one of the 81 countries that still criminalize same-sex acts.

4.9 billion people – 2/3 of the world’s population – have their right to information or expression around sexual and gender diversity systematically violated by their State.

“Millions of people around the world observe the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May. (…) I believe in and strive to achieve a world rooted in tolerance, freedom and equality; a world where we are ALL free to live a life of dignity. There are no exceptions. Human rights are for everyone, no matter who you are or whom you love» UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon[1]
« As we commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we recommit ourselves to the fundamental belief that all people should be treated equally, that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and that no one should face violence or discrimination — no matter who they are or whom they love » US President Barak Obama[2]

The world’s largest LGBTI solidarity moment took place on Saturday, May 17 – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2014. Early reports suggest that actions took place in well over 120 countries, with hundreds of millions of people reached by online and offline information. Actions happened in several of the 81 countries where same-sex acts are punished by law.

Activists in various countries faced threats, intimidation, arrests and police targeting.

In Russia, where publicly defending LGBTI rights is harshly limited by law, activists organised balloon release “flashmobs” in 13 cities. In Murmansk, one activist was arrested on accusations of “homosexual propaganda”. In Khabarovsk and St. Petersburg participants were attacked but managed to hold the event. Svetlana Zakharova, of the LGBT Russian Network, said: “I’m proud that despite all of it there are people who are not afraid and who can still resist.”

In Georgia where 40,000 people marched last year on May 17 in a counter demonstration, all LGBT mobilisations were cancelled after the Russian Orthodox Church called for a show of “Strength of Family and Respect for Parents”.

In several other countries, events had to be cancelled under pressure from authorities or social conservative groups.

At the other end, various top global figures spoke up and spoke out in support for LGBTI rights worldwide, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who was joined by the heads of most major UN agencies. The UN office of the Commissioner for Human Rights released a special video campaign for the Day. The heads of UNHCR and UN Women both marked May 17 this year for the first time, signaling how much the issue of sexual and gender minorities has progressed at the UN and how much the Day acts as a catalyst for high level engagement.

In the USA, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice-President Joe Biden all released statements on May 17 in support of equal rights.

The President of Costa Rica raised the rainbow flag outside the Presidential house on Friday, whilst the Prime Minister of Malta has affirmed for IDAHOT that there is “no such thing as a-la-carte equality”. Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted “Because we are making Mexico a country of equality, today we celebrate for the first time the National Day Against Homophobia”. UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, also released a statement in support of the IDAHOT 2014.

In several countries where LGBTI people face severe social stigma and public persecution, the embassies of many countries, including the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Finland, Germany and France flew the rainbow flag.

The global focus issue of the mobilisations this year was on Freedom of Expressionand countless activists, artists, journalists, educators, musicians and writers created a massive buzz around this– in the streets, online, in classrooms, churches, and in dozens of countries.

Over 170 organisations in the fields of gender, sexual and human rights and freedom of expression signed a “Global Call to Leaders of the World to Protect LGBTI Free Expression” – a call that was blasted to 1.5 million people via a ‘Thunderclap’ campaign!

Many actions will continue on Sunday and in the coming days.