Cuban gays and lesbians march against homophobia on May 16, 2009 in Havana, accompanied by Raul Castro's daugther Mariela Castro (C). The International Day Against Homophobia, initiated by a Quebec organization, will be celebrated in more than 50 countries Sunday, decrying discrimination against gays and lesbians. (AFP)"There are 192 countries at the UN, and half of them still ban homosexuality, notably most countries in Africa, in Asia and Arab countries," said Laurent McCutcheon, president of Quebec's Emergence Foundation, an activist group behind the annual fete.
Five countries punish homosexual acts with death, said its website.
In 2003, Emergence launched a national day against homophobia in Canada, which caught on internationally in the past three years.
May 17 was chosen because it was on this date in 1990 that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. The acronym IDAHO is often used to delineate this day.