Nobel prize winners, politicians and writers have joined calls for the United Nations to approve a resolution decriminalising homosexuality in anti-gay countries.

The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) is leading a major campaign for a UN Resolution which will decriminalise homosexuality.

There are 77 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal and where punishments include imprisonment and the death penalty.

Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of IDAHO, has gained support for this initiative from hundreds of politicians and celebrities. Many NGO’s have also signed up to the petition.

The signatories include several Nobel Prize winners such as Desmond Tutu and Dario Fo, and ten Pulitzer Prize winners. Others include Labour MEP Michael Cashman, Thomas Hammarberg Commissioner of the Council of Human Rights and the Mayor Of Paris. The mayors of Vienna and Berlin are also expected to sign shortly.

Authors Edmund White and Neil McKenna join playwrights Tom Stoppard, Ariel Dorfman, and Larry Kramer, international superstar David Bowie and actress, Meryl Streep in supporting this campaign. Crucially, organisations such as the Intergroup of the European Parliament on Gay and Lesbian Rights and ILGA have also declared their support, as well as human rights and anti racist organisations.

Tin explained that once enough people have signed the petition, the wording and the timing of the resolution, which will be presented to the United Nations Council of Human Rights, will be decided in consultation with ILGA. It is hoped that South Africa will submit the proposal.

Meanwhile, IDAHO-UK is busy preparing for May 17th. Among the initiatives planned for next year is a major campaign around homophobic bullying.

This initiative will see students of the University of Arts designing posters celebrating the diversity of the LGBT community and also addressing the issue of homophobic bullying, as part of their course curriculum. The winning posters will be sent to every school in London, and will be displayed at a major IDAHO reception and public meeting on May 17th.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the University of the Arts, LGBT History Month, School’s Out, Westminster Council and Amnesty International. Amit Popat, Diversity Advisor of the University of Arts said “Inspired by IDAHO this project sets an example of how organisations can collaborate to educate people about non-discrimination, locally and globally. It embraces the spirit of “It takes a village to educate a child”.

IDAHO campaigners around the world marked May 17th with a minutes silence, but this year inspired by the example of an IDAHO event in Sheffield in May of this year , campaigners will be making a “minutes noise” in city centres around the UK, to express their anger about homophobia. There were over 40 events this May as part of IDAHO-UK, which included a demonstration outside the Home Office in protest at the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers, the launch of a homophobic reporting kiosk in a London pub, and many awareness raising meetings about international homophobia across the country

The organisation has also launched a new website at www.idaho.org.uk, Derek Lennard the IDAHO UK Coordinator said: “This interactive website will play a crucial role in the development of our campaigns-we strongly advise everyone to have a look at it and take part in the various forums and discussions.

He added “We are clearly very concerned about homophobia and transphobia around the world and believe that IDAHO is an excellent way to address these issues. At the same time we are not at all complacent about the situation in the UK. We recognise the enormous progress that has been made but that there is still much to do, and we will never take the freedoms we have won for granted”.

The general public can also sign the UN petition by going to www.idahomophobia.org.