Thursday May 17 is the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) – an opportunity to highlight and campaign for LGBTI equality across the globe.

It has been celebrated every year on May 17 since since 2005 to honour the day that homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1992.

IDAHO is coordinated by the Paris-based IDAHO Committee, which was founded by French academic Louis-Georges Tin. It is celebrated in more than 50 countries and is officially recognised by various nations as well as the European Union.

The day is an opportunity to draw media attention to the issue of homophobia and transphobia, organise events that mobilise public opinion, demand attention from policy makers and engage in lobbying activities.

Homosexuality remains illegal in more than 80 countries, in some cases punishable by life imprisonment. In seven countries, same-gender sex is punishable by death.

This year, efforts across the world include video, radio and print awareness campaigns, photo exhibitions, marches and rallies, film screenings, theatre performances, talks, flash mobs, parties, petitions, letter writing campaigns and just about any other opportunity to highlight intolerance and oppression of LGBTI people.

As has been the case in the past, South Africa appears to be (at the time of publishing this article) hosting no IDAHO-related events. This is concerning, considering that for the first time in our democracy’s history, lesbian and gay constitutional protection is under threat.

However, there are still opportunities to play a part as an individual on May 17. Here’s what you can do:

• Use social media like Facebook and Twitter on May 17 to let your circle of friends know that homophobia is not acceptable.

• Sign the online petition demanding that the Constitutional Review Committee in South Africa’s Parliament immediately halt efforts to consider removing section 9 (3) – which currently prohibits unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation – from the Constitution.

• If you run an LGBTI or human rights organisation consider holding an IDAHO event on May 17 and submit your event to

• Visit and ‘like’ the IDAHO Facebook page here.

For 2012, the IDAHO Committee team has released a new video to highlight homophobia. Watch it below.

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