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VIDEOS: Millions to observe IDAHO today to fight homophobia, transphobia

Human rights activists around the world today will observe the seventh edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

IDAHO 2012 comes at a crucial time in history when the pendulum clearly is swinging toward full equality for all. However, 76 countries continue to enforce outdated laws that make it illegal to be LGBT. The United Nations, the European Parliament, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have taken the international lead in support of LGBT and human rights.

Today, senior officials at the UN marked IDAHO by drawing attention to the laws around the world that criminalize gay people and called for equality.

“When I raise these issues, some complain that I’m pushing for ‘new rights’ or ‘special rights’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But there is nothing new or special about the right to life and security of person, the right to freedom from discrimination,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

“These and other rights are universal … enshrined in international law but denied to many of our fellow human beings simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said.

Pillay urged a repeal of homophobic laws around the world.

“We cannot let these abuses stand. We know what needs to be done,” Ms. Pillay said. “States must repeal discriminatory laws and ban discriminatory practices: punish violence and hatred… not love.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also been an outspoken advocate for equality, and his spokesperson today said Ban is distressed by the fact that LGBT people are discriminated against in the labour market, in schools and in healthcare, and are even abused and disowned by their own families.

“He is outraged that they are singled out for physical attack, even murder,” the spokesperson said. “And he has called for a repeal of laws, now on the books in 76 countries, that criminalize loving relationships between people of the same sex.”

Besides Pillay and Ban, millions of people, including outspoken LGBT rights activist Lady Gaga, will participate in hundreds of IDAHO events planned in more than 50 countries across the globe.

Lady Gaga will be the guest editor of the free daily Metro, which has 17 national editions, giving her a bully pulpit for the day.

IDAHO activities are planned in 12 cities across China and in Japan, Iraq, Indonesia, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.

San Diegans observed IDAHO on Monday night at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Hillcrest in an event tied into anti-bullying efforts.

“It is very impressive to see such a wave of activism, ranging from huge national marches like in Brazil or Turkey, to small community events,” said Joel Bedos, international coordinator for the IDAHO Committee, “but it is also badly needed. Despite some recent progressive developments, with the recognition of same-sex marriage in Argentina and Mexico as important landmarks, the global climate is still predominantly one of fear, hatred and violence against sexual and gender minorities.”

This year’s campaign is designed to create a global community of people who are uniting to celebrate diversity in all its forms.

“We named this campaign ‘As I Am.’ The idea is to invite individuals to submit testimonials, artwork, photos or videos on what makes them special and beautiful,” said Ryan Ubuntu Olson, campaign manager. “We invite all decision makers in the media, the blogosphere or Facebook pages to spread the word and contribute to the success of the day and its campaigns worldwide.”
For more information on activities and campaigns across the world, click HERE.

“Homophobia” short film makes a big impact

In Vienna, Austria, last week, IDAHO supporters released a compelling short film, “Homophobia,” about a young soldier’s struggles to suppress his sexual feelings and fend off homophobic slurs.

Director Gregor Schmidinger follows the story of Michael, a tall, handsome lad on his last night of border patrol with the Austrian Military Forces. He is paired with another soldier for whom he has feelings, and when he tries to act out on those feelings, things take a dramatic turn for the worse.

“Laws can prevent people from doing crimes, but they don’t change people’s thinking. Art can touch people on an emotional level and therefore really make an impact,” the director said.

“People often connect homophobia with hate, but it’s really about fear. It’s the fear of the unknown and sometimes of the unknown within ourselves. With ‘Homophobia’ I want to portray this conflict and provide people with new perspectives on an empathetic level.”

The remarkable 22-minute film was partly financed through crowd funding that raked in $10,000.