Today is IDAHO Day

17 May 2012

By Graham Jones

Today, 17th May, is IDAHO Day. Nothing to do with potatoes or the US state. 

17th May is remembered round the world as International Day Against Homophobia. There will be marches, meetings and protests in many towns and cities in various countries. See if there is an event near you. My own city of Sheffield certainly always has a very lively and noisy event usually addressed by leading local politicians, a high ranking officer of the local police, local LGBTi and human rights activists. 

This includes Russia where there will be“Rainbow Flash”events where people are letting colourful balloons fly in the sky as a symbolic move to combat homophobia in commemoration of IDAHO. 

RainbowFlash is taking place in Tyumen, Tomsk, Omsk, Perm, Novosibirsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Arkhangelsk, Astrakhan, Vladivostok,
Samara, Syktyvkar, Ufa, Pskov, Voronezh. 

With the big cities of St Petersburg, Moscow and Novosibirsk and the regions of Ryazan, Kostroma and Arkhangelsk passing bans on “gay propaganda” in recent months, homophobic persecution by the authorities in Russia might appear to be on the ascendant but there are increasing numbers of brave people who will stand up for LGBTI Rights. 

For example, the St Petersburg LGBT Organisation “Coming out” reports ( 

On March 30 "homosexual propaganda" law went into effect in St. Petersburg, imposing administrative fines on the so-called "propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, and paedophilia" to minors. On April 7th activists were arrested for holding signs "no to silencing of hate crimes against gays and lesbians" and "our family friend is a lesbian, her family is socially equal to ours" and charged with propaganda and non-compliance with police. One activist was found guilty of non-compliance, but the propaganda charge was ignored by the court.

Seventeen people were arrested on a May Day march for carrying rainbow themed flags etc. 

Meanwhile Amnesty International has taken up the case of Nikolai Alekseev, a prominent Russian LGBTI rights activist, who has become the first person to be fined for spreading “gay propaganda” under a new St Petersburg law after he picketed the city hall with a poster that said “homosexuality is not a perversion”.

He announced the news of his conviction via Twitter: “Who can pay my fine for gay propaganda in St. Petersburg? 5000 rub, 130 euros, 180 usd”. 

Even if you can’t support the IDAHO demonstrations today, you can help the Russian LGBTI movement in other ways. Letters to the authorities, messages of support to Russian LGBTI activists. Perhaps even help Nikolai Alekseev pay his fine or send a donation to help the ongoing work of “Coming Out”. People in Russia are making big sacrifices to check the application of these draconian homophobic laws. 

The latest press release by Coming Out "IDAHO Celebrated in St Petersburg Despite Attacks" can be read HERE and below:

17 May 2012

Today St. Petersburg LGBT community commemorated International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia by holding an officially authorized mass rally. Over 300 people gathered in Petrovsky park in St. Petersburg. However, not all of those
present came to support the ideas of tolerance and non-violence to LGBT. About 100-150 members of nationalist, soccer-fan, and aggressive clerical groups chanted homophobic extremist slogans, ready to charge at protesters. A row of police stood as buffer, holding the aggressors at bay. Despite the charged atmosphere, the action dedicated to peace and non-violence was a success. Over 500 rainbow balloons were launched into the skies to symbolize our dreams of the world without homophobia and hate, accompanied by applause of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, their allies, relatives, and friends. Representatives of democratic parties and human rights organizations of St. Petersburg spoke of the importance of joining our forces against the growing intolerance in society. The police and organizers of the rally provided buses that took the participants to safety. Unfortunately, violence could not be avoided. 2 LGBT activists were attacked and are filing reports with the police. Additionally, a bus full of migrants was attacked by the frustrated extremists hungry for action. This incident demonstrates fully how the "propaganda" laws lead to escalation of violence and hatred in society, which could touch the lives of anyone. All the more important it is for civil society to unite, become stronger and more visible, and say "NO" to violence and homophobic or any other form of xenophobic discrimination.

Photos from the rally will be available shortly here: