It was great to see Australia get involved in the International Day Against Homophobia this year. In the past it’s slipped under the radar but this year saw small events by CAAH and ACON and groups in other states.

Next year we’ll have to do better though, because with the UN having ceased to function as an effective fighter for GLBT rights, events like IDAHO may be all that’s left to focus political pressure on our issues on a global scale.

On 28 March this year, a bloc of 56 Islamic nations put the final nail in the coffin of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the help of China, Russia and Cuba.

The UN’s Human Rights Council will now condemn instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination, meaning that instead of promoting freedom of expression, the UNHRC will now police it, protecting fundamentalists from defamation of their religion -“ including criticism of their treatment of women and gays.

From now on, when countries are condemned for the execution or torture of gay men, that criticism can be considered religious discrimination of an equal weight to the actual abuses themselves.

It’s the culmination of a decade’s hard work undermining gay rights by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, with other successes including blocking gay groups from getting observer status at the UN’s Economic and Social Council earlier this year and in 2006.

And despite growing GLBT rights successes in the developed world, the International Lesbian and Gay Association updated the number of countries that criminalise homosexuality this year from 77 to 86.

Only 60 countries have a consistent record on gay rights at the United Nations -“ and there are 192 member states in the UN. That’s less than a third on our side.

But all is not gloomy -“ what better IDAHO gift could there have been than California’s ruling on gay marriage?

With gay marriage already legal in the state of Massachusetts, this means more than 10 percent of the US population now has access to equal marriage rights.

Couples can begin marrying in 30 days and will have five months to convince their fellow Californians before conservatives force a vote on the issue in November.

Should gay Californians win, it will send a powerful message, not just to the rest of the States but to the entire world.

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