What is the Commonwealth doing to stop member states persecuting LGBTQ people?

Human rights activists are urging the Commonwealth to put its money where its mouth is on LGBTQ+ rights (Picture: Peter Tatchell)

When the Commonwealth Charter was signed nine years ago, it was hailed by some as a turning point for the lives of LGBTQ+ people.

It was the first time that the association of former British colonies had a formal charter setting out its shared values – a progressive step forward, or so it seemed.

‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds,’ the document stated.

But campaigners said the fact that the charter didn’t even mention sexuality spoke volumes about the Commonwealth’s efforts to tackle its nations’ homophobia.

Nearly a decade on and 35 out of 54 member states criminalise same-sex relations, seven of which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

In Malaysia, LGBTQ+ people face 20 years and flogging, while in northern parts of Nigeria still under Sharia law, they risk the death penalty.

Most of this oppressive legislation is a hangover from the British Empire, which imposed its own anti-sodomy laws over its colonies.

Peter Tatchell (right) has spent the past 30 years lobbying the Commonwealth to put LGBTQ+ rights on its agenda (Picture: Getty Images)

What are campaigners demanding of Commonwealth states?

Decriminalise same-sex relations
Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Enforce existing laws against threats of violence to protect LGBTQ+ people from hate crimes
Consult and dialogue with national LGBTQ+ organisations

But still members have had decades to change the law as independent states, says human rights and LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell.

‘The Commonwealth says that its aim is to work via consensus – this means colluding with homophobic regimes that comprise at least 70% of member states,’ he …read more

Source:: Metro News

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