Latin America Celebrates International Day Against Homophobia



In 2005, after much campaigning and hard work by French university academic and civil rights activist Louis-George Tin, signatures from 24,000 people worldwide, and international organizations like the World Congress of LGBT Jews, and the Coalition of African lesbians, the International Day Against Homophobia ‘IDAHO’ was enacted. 

The goal of the day, May 17, is to get the attention of the media, policy makers, social movements, opinion leaders, and the public, by bringing awareness and understanding to issues of discrimination, violence, and oppression against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community. 

"It is great that so many nations around the world are calling attention to the harm that homophobia and transphobia cause not only to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, but also the families who love and support them," said Monica Trasandes, GLAAD's Director of Spanish Language Media. "LGBT Latinos and their families and friends are speaking out more than ever and sharing not only their concern for anti-gay violence and homophobia, but their support for LGBT people."

The Paris-based committee decided on May 17  in honor of the day the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1990.

Here’s is a list of what some of the world’s Latino communities will be doing on this historic day. 

It is great that so many nations around the world are calling attention to the harm that homophobia and transphobia cause not only to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, but also the families who love and support them

- Monica Trasandes, GLAAD's Director of Spanish Language Media

In Valencia Spain, the Lambda LGBT organization will commemorate this year’s IDAHO with the presentation of a book on immigrant lesbian women in Spain, in collaboration with the University Jaume in Castellón.

In Barranquilla, Colombia, the LGBTI Forum will celebrate this year’s IDAHO with the theme "Towards a Barranquilla without Prejudice".

After 25 murders, nine cases of abusive treatment by police, and 15 violent acts committed by members of the public, documented in Barranquilla in the past five years.  Activists and organizations are demanding "No more homo, lesbo, bi and transphobia". To mark the occasion, a commitment document will be signed by government representatives affirming the rights of the city’s LGBT people.

In Caracas, Venezuela, activists will be pushing for the May 17 publication the National University’s policy on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The city will also celebrate the first anniversary of the "Caracas without Homophobia" strategy with a number of conferences being held on such topics as homophobia in the workplace and international law.

In Chile,Tal Como Eres’, the Chilean Christians for the Inclusion of Sexual Diversity, is holding a forum entitled "Illness is In the Look: Why Diverse Sexualities are still Pathologized?"

The forum is aimed at informing and encouraging an inclusive Christian look at the LGBTI world from the perspective of the human right to live and express diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

Participating in the forum will be--Michel Riquelme: Coordinator of OTD, Organización Transexuales por la Dignidad Ema de Ramón: Coordinator of the National History Archive and LGBTI activist Loreto Fernández: Researcher at the Ecumenical Centre Diego de Medellín, Theologist, expert on Religious Sciences and a member of Tal Como Eres.

Here at home in the United States, the US Department of State has informed all of its missions around the world about the day and has provided them with best practices related to supporting LGBT groups.

The State Department will also support their employees around the world by hosting panels and discussions in embassies and government facilities.

The San Francisco Pride organization will lower the flag at UN Plaza in downtown.  And in San Diego, the US Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico will provide shuttle services from San Diego to Tijuana to join a bi-national event including groups from Rosarito, Ensenada, and Mexicali. 

In San Juan, Puerto Rico a public demonstration will take place in front of the Education Department to highlight the need to include a gender perspective within the country’s education system.

The Education Department recently approved and put into practice a new framework for sexual education, which includes the teaching of concepts such as abstinence and contraception, and such values as respect, trust and responsibility.     The document does not mention sexual orientation or gender identity, and does not differentiate between sex and gender.

In Rio de Janerio Brazil, a photographic exhibition will tour throughout the month of May in commemoration of this year’s IDAHO, taking the messages of 22 mothers of LGBT children to four different regions of the city.

The exhibition is being organized by international organization in collaboration with the Special Coordination of Sexual Diversity (CEDS) of the municipality.

In his speech during the inauguration event, CEDS Coordinator Carlos Alexandre Lima spoke of the importance of celebrating IDAHO reaffirming the commitment of the municipality’s bodies in combating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Rio de Janeiro.

The exhibition shows 22 pictures of mothers accompanied by testimonies on the difficulties and joys of having LGBT children.

In Bolivia, the Bolivian Coalition of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans people (COALIBOL LGBT) will host a series of events to mark IDAHO as a symbolic date for the Bolivian LGBT movement. Ranges of activities are planned on behalf of the “Cures That Kill” campaign—reparative therapies designed to “treat homosexuality”.

Also offering a symposium on "Approaching Sexual Diversity?" at Santa Cruz and La Paz, and a screening of the film "Hijos de Dios".

Cuba marks its fifth consecutive IDAHO celebration this year. Promoted by CENEXEX, IDAHO was first commemorated in a one-day celebration on May 17, 2007. From 2008 onwards, a series of journeys were organized, supported by some state and civil society organizations.

Year after year, strategies have been built and a work plan developed, to which the academic sector was added in an acknowledgement of the importance of having academia discuss sexual diversity, stigma and discrimination.

Activities will be held in La Habana and Cien Fuegos in partnership with the Ministry of Superior Education in an attempt to address sexual education and the promotion of sexual health and rights in all of the country’s universities.

The Writers and Artists Union of Cuba will host their fourth IDAHO celebrations with an extensive program coordinated by honorable writer Norge Espinoza Mendoza with participation from storytellers, artists, painters, film and video makers, researchers, musicians and experts in the arts to offer a wide range of ways to promote LGBTI equality in Cuba.

The program features CENESEX President Mariela Castro and representatives from the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba. It includes the launch of an anthology of lesbian stories entitled "Us Two" (Nosotras dos, Ediciones UNION, compiled by Dulce María Sotolongo), as well as a panel on homoerotism and the screening of videos, photographs and films about sexual diversity

In Santiago, Chile, the Homosexual Liberation Movement of Chile (MOVILH) invited people to come out of the closet in a collective show of strength in a march to mark this year’s IDAHO.

The march united LGBT people in saying NO to discrimination and YES to social and legal equality for every Chilean citizen.

The celebration of IDAHO will take place during the "Chile Diverso: Cultural Exhibition for Diversity and No Discrimination", now in its 12th year in Chile.

Organizations participating in this initiative include: Amnesty Internacional, Afirmación Chile, Acción, Agrupación de Familiares de Pacientes Psiquiátricos (Afaps) Agrupación de Inmigrantes por la Integración Latinoamericana (Apila), Fundación Ideas, Chile Gay Deportes, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Círculo de Políticas Participativas, Fadise, Fedisech, Frida-Kahlo, Judíos por la Diversidad, Ilustre Municipalidad de San Antonio, Miles and Unión de Mejillones.

In Quito, Ecuador the Taller de Counicación Mujer will host an artistic installation at the Contemporary Arts Center.

The exhibition is a look at the processes of dignifying sexual diversity and   respecting differences, stemming from discussions with lesbian-feminist collectives, popular educators, activists, intellectuals and artists. 

The installation aims to make lesbian movements’ and struggles visible in the country, focusing on their fight to eradicate the clinics that attempt to "cure" sexual diversity.

The clinics are seen as representing religious dogmatism and lack of respect for homosexuality, despite the 1998 Constitution acknowledging the right to sexual freedom.

There will also be a free concert at the Contemporary Arts Center on behalf of the "Cures That Kill" Campaign featuring rap and Andean fusion (among other musical genres) all performed by young artists.

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.