THE rainbow flag will soar high above the Blue Mountains tomorrow as communities throughout NSW celebrate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

Now in its 10th year, IDAHOT aims to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally.

The date of May 17 commemorates the decision by the World Health Organisation to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill will join Cr Romola Hollywood to raise the rainbow flag at 10am tomorrow above the council chambers at Katoomba.

Hollywood said it was the fifth year that Blue Mountains  Council had supported IDAHOT.

“At the heart of our Blue Mountains community are values of respect and inclusion of all people,” she said.

“IDAHOT is an important time for the Council to show leadership and say no to homophobia and transphobia.”

The event, which is also supported by local community organisations such as PFLAG, will then continue at Carrington Square with performances and a speech by Neil Blewett, a local resident and former federal health minister instrumental in combating discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS.

Away from the mountains, health promotion body ACON is hosting an IDAHOT BBQ in Lismore from 11am on Magellan Street while the Samaritans will be getting their chalk out and creating a rainbow crossing in Gateshead, Newcastle.

Newtown locals can head along to an event outside the neighbourhood centre tomorrow evening that will include images from the This is Oz campaign projected onto local buildings.

Earlier this week, youth support group Twenty10 started IDAHOT celebrations early with food, activities and speakers at their Chippendale base.

The event culminated in the unveiling of a new poster aimed at the education sector showing how they could better highlight diversity.

Meanwhile, healing homophobia will be the theme of Pitt Street Uniting Church’s service on Sunday at 10am.

While homosexuality is not sinful, homophobia certainly is, says the Central Sydney church’s Minister, the Reverend Dr Margaret Mayman

“Prejudice robs us all of our common humanity,” she said.

“Our faith community is blessed by its diversity and our message to the wider community is that celebrating diversity, rather than fearing it, makes us stronger and better.”

This weekend also sees Sydney’s candlelight memorial.

ACON and Positive Life NSW, the peak organisation representing people with HIV in the state, are co-producing the Sydney event which kicks off at 3.30pm at ACON’s office on Elizabeth Street.

Following a similar format to candlelight memorials across the globe, the name of loved ones lost to AIDS will be read out at the Sydney event.

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