GENEVA, Switzerland — LGBT rights advocates observed the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (or IDAHO) in more than 95 countries around the world Thursday, commemorating the 1990 decision by the World Health Organization that decategorized homosexuality as a mental disorder.
In a statement released today in New York, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice said that “all peoplee must celebrate human diversity and rededicate ourselves to a basic but essential truth—that human rights are universal and must be protected.”
“To our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends and relatives around the world, the United States stands with you in your struggle against discrimination. We will continue to do everything we can, in every arena possible, to promote communities and societies in which all people can live safely and love without fear,” Rice said.
British Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone speaking in London remarked that “today is an opportunity to celebrate how much progress has been made in changing attitudes towards LGBT people.”
“In the UK, we are continuing to remove barriers and tackle prejudice – by toughening hate crime laws, campaigning to eradicate homophobia and transphobia in sport, supporting action against bullying in schools, and through our current consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage,” said Featherstone.
“However, today it is also important to reflect on the challenges we still face, at home and abroad. We are continuing to drive change across government through our LGBT action plan as well as pushing for more action from partners overseas,” she added.
In Serbia, a nation not known for a particularly tolerant view of LGBT lifestyles, Equality Protection Commissioner Nevena Petrušić said, “We need to develop awareness that everybody in Serbia must enjoy the same rights and feel safe. This is a road to a tolerant and democratic society in which everybody will be able to say that they enjoy the same rights as all other citizens.”
Thursday’s commemorations were marred by violence in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where fighting broke out as protesters attacked marchers, tearing up placards, and police made several arrests in the capital of Tbilisi, according to the BBC.
British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne, and International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien, released a statement that read in part, “It is sadly the case that in many countries Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people continue to suffer brutal violence and discrimination. These people are not making a political statement, or asking for special treatment, they just want to be free to be who they are and to love who they choose.”
“These simple demands are not Western impositions but universal human rights we should all be able to take for granted. Yet in over 70 countries consensual same-sex relations continue to be criminalized. In some, sexual relations between consenting adults are a crime punishable by the death penalty. We strongly oppose any criminalization of same-sex relations,” Browne and O’Brien said.
Last year, U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had issued a global plea for better understanding and global cooperation to end the violence against LGBTQ people.
“In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love,” Clinton said.