The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) will be formally launched this evening, amongst cross party support.

IDAHO was inaugurated last May to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

The London meeting is being arranged and funded by the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) which promotes gay rights as human rights.

Meg Munn, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, stated that she fully supported “the work of the International Day Against Homophobia campaign to increase awareness on the legal and

human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people across the globe”.

She added, “The UK government recognises the discrimination that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people face in their day to day lives and we are committed to tackling it, just as we want to encourage and develop the conditions for a fair and just society for all.

“We are working hard to improve the lives of lesbians, gay, bisexuals and transsexuals in the UK, and I hope the International Day Against Homophobia will encourage others to take

similar steps. I look forward to marking this day on 17th May from this year onwards.”

Eleanor Laing, Shadow Minister for Women and Equality, said: “The fact that we can celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia is a clear indication of the way in which the whole attitude of society has changed. There is a long way to go but I am confident that right across the political divide we are working for a fair and equal society.”

Evan Harris for the Liberal Democrats said “Homophobia is an increasing problem in Europe and remains prevalent in many parts of the world. Liberal Democrats want to see further steps to tackle prejudice, bullying and discrimination both in the UK and abroad, and we give our whole-hearted backing to the International Day Against Homophobia.”

London’s Green MEP, Jean Lambert expressed her support for the event, she said: “Everyone is equal whatever their sexuality, gender or race. It is vital that we ensure LGBT communities around the world are granted their basic human rights they are entitled to.

“Recent situations in EU countries such as Poland and Latvia, has seen homophobic behaviour tolerated. There is absolutely no excuse for a modern Europe to make allowances for this. If we are serious about justice then we need to ensure Europe does not see homophobic acts as acceptable and continues to protect those with their lives in danger.

“The International Day Against Homophobia celebrated today is a real step forward for equality and a modern, democratic view towards LGBT communities throughout the EU and the rest of the world.”

The meeting will begin with a welcome address given by Amnesty UK’s secretary, Linda Wilkinson, and the keynote speaker will be Louis-Georges Tin who will explain how and why he devised IDAHO, and how events were organised in over 40 countries last year with no funding and no staff. He will give an overview of homophobia worldwide and is also expected to give an update on the situation regarding Moscow Pride.

Another speaker will be Michael Cashman, former actor and now the Labour MEP for the West Midlands. Michael, who is one of GALHA staunchest supporters, is President of the Intergroup on gay and lesbian rights, in the European Parliament. During an impassioned debate in the European Parliament earlier this year he said, ” I am gay. I am homosexual, born to an ordinary man and woman. Because of that some people will wish to take away my right to talk about my sexuality, to celebrate my 22 year old relationship and to be part of a wider community. Where is the morality in preaching and promoting discrimination and hatred, hiding behind the shield and excuse of religion or belief?”

Meanwhile, Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, has tabled an early day motion in support of IDAHO in the House of Commons.

Derek Lennard, Co-ordinator of IDAHO in the UK welcomed “this broad political support for such a new campaign” and commented that the guest list of IDAHO speakers was looking like a Who’s Who of LGBT Human Rights Supporters”.