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Thursday, 10 April 2008

IDAHO: cake, lollies and balls!

Events for the fourth International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) will be held in more than 50 countries on 17 May, the date in 1990 that the General Assembly of the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Today, being homosexual is still a crime in 75 countries, and IDAHO exists to provoke action to end homophobia.

Derek Lennard, the IDAHO-UK coordinator, has just announced some of the planned events in Britain, including a whole raft in the southeast of England.

  • The Quake nightclub in Woking and Surrey Police are sponsoring an event that will include a Julie Jepson, David Meech and Rosie Wilby comedy hour and the Surrey heat of Mr Gay UK. The evening will start with speeches by representatives from the police, health service and the mayor-elect and end with a midnight performance by UK chart stars Friday Hill.
  • In Kent, the Crown Prosecution Service, council and police (including the Maidstone police training college and police support groups) will be joining forces with Stonewall's executive director Ben Summerskill to highlight homophobic hate reporting, and there will be an awards ceremony to recognise individual achievements from within the LGBT community.
  • The London Hotel, Southampton, Southampton City Council and the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Police are sponsoring an evening of entertainment, with donations on the door going to local victim support.
  • In Dorset, staff from the Over the Rainbow LGBT centre will be working closely with local police to try to persuade the public "Homophobia Sucks" by giving out lollipops with this message in Bournemouth town centre.
  • The Intercom Trust have launched an IDAHO Picnic and Anti-Homophobia Cake Competition and will be arranging picnics in Exeter and elsewhere in the southwest to celebrate positive achievements in counteracting homophobia and reflecting on what still needs to be done at home and abroad.

Events in Scotland will include an IDAHO youth activism event and a playwright's theatre performance. Meanwhile, Glasgow Council have announced that they will be raising the rainbow flag for IDAHO day, and IDAHO hopes that many other councils will follow their example.

This year, IDAHO coincides with the UK football cup final, and so far two events have been arranged to highlight this.

  • Brighton Bandits' player Jason Hall has arranged an exhibition about Justin Fashanu's life and death. Hall explains, "It will provide an opportunity for people to question us about being gay, playing football and moving towards a situation where sportspeople can be open about their sexuality without the kind of fear that killed Justin Fashanu."
  • In Sheffield, a huge rally, hopefully joined by local soccer players and supporters, will urge that homophobia is kicked out of football. It will include speeches, a minute's noise against homophobia and a gay choir.
For more information, or to submit your own event for inclusion, visit the IDAHO-UK website. There's more information about the IDAHO movement on the international website here.

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