Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), a worldwide day of activism against anti-LGBT prejudice. Last year, activists in over 80 nations got involved, according to the Arcus Foundation. This year, prayer vigils and parties are planned all over the world, with Burma marking a milestone by holding its first ever gay pride celebrations.
Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, not all of the response has been positive. Despite the global show of support, anti-LGBT activists and government officials have tried to stymie some of these events. Here are a few examples:
-A gay pride march in Georgia was attacked by several Christian activists, including some Orthodox priests. About 20 people marched through the streets of Tbilisi, but were blocked by an “improvised cordon” of activists who threw punches and smashed signs. Police arrested at least three people.
-LGBT activists in Malaysia announced they would not be holding a march, citing security reasons. One organizer of the march claimed “a rising wave of threats made against the LGBT community by the government and certain religious organizations” since the government banned a sexual minorities festival, Seksualiti Merdeka, last year.
-Police in Fiji canceled a gay pride parade despite granting a permit the month before. According to one rights activist in Fiji, police “said we cannot march today because they did not realise they had given a permit for gays to march.” Homosexuality in Fiji was decriminalized in 2010, but homophobia is still prevalent, according to activists.
-Government officials in Belarus rejected requests to hold three separate demonstrations in the capital Minsk. The officials cited “technical” issues and repair work being done near the sites, according to the owner of an online portal, who also said he found the explanations “far-fetched.”
Responses like these show just how important an event like IDAHO is. Despite the remarkable progress that has been made on LGBT rights over the past several years, strong homophobia still exists across the world, whether it is religious activists attacking peaceful protestors in Georgia or a government minister in Zimbabwe urging tribal chiefs to “banish” people who support marriage equality. A lot has been gained, but a lot more is left to do.