The International Day Against Homophobia, to be held on 17th May, has received the backing of government ministers.

A joint statement by Ian McCartney, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Meg Munn, Minister for Women and Equality, pledges their support for the worldwide protest day.

The statement reads “We fully support the work of the International Day Against Homophobia campaign to increase awareness of the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people across the globe.”

For the Tories, Equalities spokesman Eleanor Laing voiced her support for IDAHO:

“The Conservative Party is pleased to support the International Day Against Homophobia,” she told PinkNews.co.uk

“A campaign day like this will encourage societies around the world to be more open and honest.

“It is very important that people of any sexual orientation feel part of today’s society.”

Mr McCartney and Ms Munn highlighted the Blair government’s achievements in a number of areas of gay rights in their statement.

They cited the equalisation of the age of consent in 2001, the repeal of the discriminatory criminal offences of gross indecency and buggery in 2003, and the recent regulations to outlaw sexual discrimination in goods and services.

Ms Munn and Mr McCartney said:

“We have both spoken in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual issues at length this year, including a speech to the UN Human Rights Council as minister with responsibility for international human rights and important Parliamentary debates on the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 as Minister for Equality.”

The ministers acknowledged that progress in the UK contrasts with the position of LGBT around the world.

“Nothing justifies the abuse of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms – neither culture, nor religion, nor tradition.

“The Government is committed to promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms in all its foreign policies as much as its domestic ones.

“We include the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people in these efforts.

“We hope the International Day Against Homophobia will encourage others to take similar steps.”

Derek Lennard, the UK coordinator of IDAHO commented “We very much welcome this statement from the Government and believe it will encourage both organisers of IDAHO events around the country, and campaigners working very hard to bring a resolution to the United Nations for the Universal Decriminalisation of Homosexuality”.

There will be IDAHO events across the UK on 17th May 2007 – visit the IDAHO website for more details.