International Day Against Homophobia (or IDAHO, to be short) in Kyrgyzstan was celebrated in two parts. The first part took place on 16 May as a public action, in which Labrys staff made a series of visits to international and national civic society organizations with a packet of information. The package included facts about 17th May the IDAHO, homosexuality in general and in Kyrgyzstan, cases of homophobia and discrimination in the country, as well as information on Labrys and on How To Be an Ally. Among the international organizations visited were Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe office in Bishkek, the United Nations House, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The list of national civic society organizations included Media Commissioner’s office, Women’s Support Centre, AntiAIDS Association, Tais Plus, Association of Civic Society Organizations.
As result of this public action more national NGOs and international organizations are aware of existence of LGBT issues in Kyrgyzstan, and of the work Labrys is doing in this direction. We found the action to be an effective tool in building networks with strong potential partners from the civic society sector of Kyrgyzstan. In future we want to continue this new-found tradition with quarterly visits to organizations of the country.
Contrary to expectations the day of 17 May turned out to be very bright and sunny. In previous years the veterans of LGBT movement noticed it always rained or the weather was otherwise unpleasant. However, this year conditions for celebrating IDAHO were perfect. Labrys team gathered nearly forty people from the community and partner organizations to take them out of the city limits for an improvised helium-filled balloon pride moment on one of the mountainsides near Bishkek.
Each of us was given a white balloon and tubes of colourful gouache to paint whatever we wanted on the surface. Some wrote “LGBT of the world, Unite!”, others drew LGBT rainbows, while the youngest of our guests (two girls aged 2 and 3) drew colourful flowers and stars on their balloons – which soon took flight after a few inspirational words from Labrys executive director Anna Kirey. The flight of more than forty rainbow balloons was beautiful and everyone fell silent for a moment in contemplation of that beauty.
After the air launching there was free time, during which we painted each other’s cheeks with rainbow flags, flew rainbow kites and had some snacks provided by Labrys. The whole event was closely followed by ally journalists from kloop.kg internet blogging and news portal, thanks to whom (especially Timur) we now have the opportunity to post some pictures from the Kyrgyz IDAHO.