Pink triangle behind human rights campaign

Sarah McPhee

Eighty years after homosexual men were branded with pink triangles on their striped prison clothing and tortured in an Austrian concentration camp, the mark of sexual persecution in Nazi Germany has been revived.

The continual reclamation of the pink triangle as a symbol against homophobia anchors an international campaign highlighting contemporary violations of human rights for LGBTQI people across the globe.

Progressive Austrian men's publication Vangardist Magazine has partnered with the Mauthausen Memorial, near the city of Linz, and international communications agency Serviceplan for the release of "The Pink Triangle Issue" on May 16 - the eve of International Day against Homophobia.

At the heart of the initiative is an online global petition imploring United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "to add the rights of LGBTQI persons to Article 2 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

"I think it is important to use history to illustrate the dangerous effects the present can have on the future," Jason Romeyko, the Australian-born worldwide executive creative director of international communications agency Serviceplan, told AAP.

Vangardist made global headlines in 2015 when it printed its "#HIVHeroes" issue using HIV-positive blood, prompted by a surge in infections in Eastern Europe over a 10-year period that was silenced due to stigma.

This year's special publication is backed by a short film and images of dozens of people, including memorial director Barbara Gluck and gay hate crime survivor Sudeene from Jamaica, standing in a triangle at the former World War II camp with pink triangles on their clothing in tribute to those persecuted for their sexuality.

"She (Dr Gluck) believes that to stop history repeating itself, you need keep it alive," Mr Romeyko said.

Of the 90,000 people who died at Mauthausen, Gusen and their subcamps, 80 were gay.

Homosexual acts remain effectively illegal and punishable by either persecution, imprisonment, torture or death in more than 70 countries across the world including India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Uganda and Sudan.

Money raised from the campaign will fund the work of Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian-based charity facilitating the escape of people who faced or are at an imminent threat of facing physical violence in such countries.

Mauthausen was established by the Nazis in 1938 and around 190,000 people were kept prisoner before it was liberated by American troops on May 5, 1945.