Gay activists have welcomed the decision of the government of Costa Rica to officially recognise IDAHO Day on May 17.

The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) is marked in over 50 countries on the anniversary of the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

The President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Dr Oscar Arias Sanchez and the Health Minister, Maria Luisa Avila. said that public institutions in the Latin American nation must “facilitate, promote and support activities directed at the eradication of homophobia.”

The health minister emphasised that homophobia had been a constraint for those who want to fight against AIDS.

This achievement was due to the work of the LGBT Rights Organisation, CIPAC who declared “this decision will help to eradicate the norms and social practice which favour rejection and discrimination of those who only want to use, at a sexual level, their right to self determination : moreover this decision will encourage conviviality, peace, and social justice”.

Louis-Georges Tin, founder of IDAHO congratulated CIPAC and the President of the Republic for this “remarkable achievement”. IDAHO is now officially recognised by the European Parliament, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and several provinces of Canada, Brazil and Spain.

IDAHO-UK campaigners are busily preparing for May 17th, with the aid of winning posters designed by students at the University of Arts, London, for other events and campaigns.

Among the diverse events taking place across the country:

In Woking, Quake Nightclub and Surrey Police are sponsoring an event expected to be attended by 500.
The London Hotel in Southampton, in conjunction with Southampton City Council and the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Police, is sponsoring an evening of entertainment, with donations on the door going to local victim support.

In Dorset staff from the Over the Rainbow LGBT centre working closely with local police will be trying to persuade the public that “Homophobia Sucks” by giving out lollypops with this message in Bournemouth Town Centre.

The Intercom Trust have launched an IDAHO Picnic and Anti-Homophobia Cake Competition and will be arranging picnics in Exeter and elsewhere in the South West to celebrate positive achievements in counteracting homophobia and reflecting on what still needs to be done at home and abroad.

Scotland will also host an array of IDAHO events, including an IDAHO Youth Activism Event and a Playwrights Theatre Performance on IDAHO day itself.

Glasgow Council are the first council to announce that they will be raising the rainbow flag for IDAHO day. It is hoped that, as was the case last year, many councils will follow their example.

For details of events and posters, and contact information click here.