Thursday is International Day Against Homophobia, or IDAHO, and several governments and activists have begun taking action to commemorate the day, particularly in Europe. The event is also referred to as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Following is a news roundup of the events, statements, and actions taking place.
* Pink News reports that rainbow balloons are being released in Russia, Estonia, Ukraine, Germany, and Iran.
* According to the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Human Rights Ambassador François Zimeray hosted a meeting with Maghreb and French LGBT rights groups to discuss human rights in the relation to the Arab Spring and France's support for the Tunisian association for justice and equality, al-Damj.
* In the UK, Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne and International Development Minister Stephen O'Brien issued a press statement on Wednesday, noting that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people still "suffer brutal violence and discrimination," and that they oppose criminalization of same-sex relations.
* Homosexuality is a criminal offense in 80 countries, and can incur the death penalty in Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates.
* The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland reports 82 inquiries regarding their rights last year, regarding homophobic treatment and discrimination according to the Press Association.
* Albanian activists shelved plans for a gay pride parade and settled for cycling through the capital city of Tirana on Monday. The socially conservative country's deputy defense minister had said the activists should be beaten with thick sticks, which discouraged a parade, according to Reuters.
* Youths still lobbed homemade tube bombs at cyclists, though the cyclists were accompanied by police.
* On Tuesday, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office Markus Loning decried legislation in St. Petersburg, Russia, that had been recently introduced to make "propagandizing male and female homosexuality, bisexualism and transgenderism among minors" a criminal offense. Other Russian regions have a fine in place, including St. Petersburg, Leningrad oblast, Kostroma, Arkhangelsk, Ryazan and Novosibirsk.
* Helen Clark, Administrator for the United Nations Development Program, noted that her organization doesn't tolerate discrimination and has supported initiatives to reduce human rights violations. UNDP supports the Bolo India initiative, an online collection of Indian LGBT community oral histories, with the intent of challenging homophobia.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.