A group of gay men and women in Gloucestershire will be going back into “the closet” in May to draw attention to the fact that there are still many countries in the world where gays are persecuted, and even executed.

Organised by Gloucestershire Rainbow Day, the event will be staged at Stroud’s gay and lesbian bar, the Lockkeepers in Wallbridge for 24 hours, from 6pm on Friday May 18th.

It is to be Gloucestershire’s contribution to International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), which is observed worldwide on May 17.

On IDAHO Day itself, there is to be a candlelight vigil in the evening to remember Jody Dobrowski, the young man originally from Gloucestershire who was brutally murdered in London in October 2005 in a homophobic attack on Clapham Common.

For the “back into the closet” event, a dozen or so gay men and women will take it in turns to go into the closet for an hour each. The closet will be a large wardrobe.

“Homophobic laws are still being passed in some countries and we can spend some of our time and energies highlighting these difficulties,” said Yvette Eagles, who runs the Lockkeepers with her partner Tamsin Hulls.

“At the end of the day, we are lucky in this country that our rights are protected to a greater extent,” she added.

Last year, the gay community in Gloucestershire raised over £300 for Iraqi LGBT, the Baghdad gay group who are fighting increased homophobia in post-Saddam Iraq where gays are summarily executed by death squads.

There are 77 countries in the world where men and women are punished because of their sexuality.

In eight countries (Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen) the death penalty is in force for homosexuality.

Europe is the only continent when no country has laws against homosexuality.

More details of events around the country can be found here: www.idaho.org.uk