17 May 2005: The first International Day Against Homophobia

A gay rights celebration in Madrid.
A gay rights celebration in Madrid. / REUTERS
  • Over 132 countries take part in the day with parades and protests taking place in many major cities

A year-long campaign which started in 2004 resulted in the first official International Day Against Homophobia being celebrated on 17 May 2005.

The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisation's decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Some 24,000 people, as well as organisations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association, signed an appeal to support the "IDAHO initiative". Now, over 132 countries take part in this commemoration, including 37 where same-sex relations are still illegal.

It is particularly prominent in European and Latin American countries, with Spain being one of the main participants. Throughout major cities such as Madrid, marches and celebrations are held throughout the day. Smaller towns are also known to hold their own celebrations.

In 2009, transphobia was added to the campaign and in that year there was a special focus on campaigning against the violence and discrimination suffered by transgender people.

Biphobia was added to the name of the campaign in 2015.

Large-scale street marches, parades and festivals are now very common throughout the world on 17 May.

Arts and culture are also prominent, with movements such as Love Music Hate Homophobia using the medium of music to help promote and celebrate diversity.

The main purpose of 17 May is to celebrate sexual and gender diversity, and campaign against the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBT+ people internationally.

This in turn provides a unique opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policy makers, public opinion, and wider society. After all, there are over 70 countries in the world where same-sex relationships are still illegal; in around 10 of these countries the punishment could be death.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of the world's population live under laws and regulations that limit freedom of expression around sexual orientation and gender identity.

Events will be carried out across Malaga province with a number of Pride flags unfurled outside public institutions.