In a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are being criminalised, tortured or ill-treated on the basis of their real or perceived sexuality, people in Scotland are being asked to take action.

To mark the third International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on 17th May, individuals are encouraged to demand greater respect for the human rights by writing to one of the countries failing to protect LGBT people from abuse.

Information on cases, which concern harrowing stories from seven countries (including Nigeria, Poland and El Salvador) and sample campaign letters will be distributed at a number of venues, with campaign events confirmed for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

Amnesty International’s LGBT Campaigner for Scotland, Naomi McAuliffe said:

“It is particularly important, right now in Scotland, to remember that human rights belong to everyone.

“While positive changes have been made to legislation here as we strive towards equality, it is important to remember that LGBT people around the world risk imprisonment, torture and death because of their identity.

“The International Day Against Homophobia gives us a chance to reflect on the homophobia which still pervades our society as we encourage people to take action on the extreme human rights abuses that are happening around the world.”

Campaigning against the abuses of LGBT people, under the banner of Love is a Human Right, Amnesty International does not just address LGBT human rights abuses overseas.

It has criticised the Scottish Executive for refusing to put homophobic or disability-related hate crimes in the same class as race and sectarian-related hate crimes.

This makes Scotland the only place in the UK where homophobic hate crime is not a statutory offence.

Last year, International Day Against Homophobia saw a number of events held in the spirit of international solidarity, including activists travelling from over twenty countries to support local Russian activists organising Moscow Pride.

In Scotland, there was a special service for IDAHO at Metropolitan Community Church, and a minute’s silence at the exhibition “Rainbow City,” in memory of victims of homophobia.

This year’s vigil will take place at the corner of Royal Terrace and London Road, Edinburgh from 7.30-8.00pm on Thursday 17th May, with organisers asking LGBT people and their friends across Scotland to gather for a minute’s silence at 8pm.

You can support local Amnesty International Scotland members who will be promoting the letter-writing campaign at Planet Out and the Regent the evening of the 17th: www.equality-network.org/community/campaigns/Idaho to find out how to get involved.

Throughout the year, Amnesty International works to expose human rights abuses and to protect human rights defenders who put themselves at risk by speaking out to protest at human rights violations, including those based on sexuality or gender identity.