Commonwealth anniversary celebrations face LGBTQ+ protests

  • Post last modified:March 10, 2024
  • Reading time:3 mins read

As the Commonwealth anniversary of 75 years is marked, people will be protesting in London over the fact that dozens of countries still criminalise LGBTQ+ people – all thanks to the British empire.

The Commonwealth anniversary: still persecuting LGBTQ+ people

Leaders of 30 Commonwealth countries that criminalise LGBTQ+ people will attend the Commonwealth’s 75th anniversary service at Westminster Abbey. Shamefully, they’ll be welcomed by the Church of England and the UK government.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation is coordinating a protest from 12-3pm as homophobic leaders arrive. It will include LGBTQ+ people who have fled victimisation and violence in Commonwealth countries.

Peter Tatchell said:

As the Commonwealth celebrates, we mourn! We are calling out the 30 Commonwealth leaders who violate the equality principles of their own constitutions and the Commonwealth Charter. They preside over the state-sanctioned persecution of their LGBTQ+ citizens.

Thirty out of 56 Commonwealth countries criminalise homosexuality, mostly under laws imposed by Britain during the nineteenth century when it was the colonial power.

As the Canary previously wrote, for example in the Middle East in 1885 the British introduced new penal codes that punished all homosexual behaviour. Of the more than 70 countries that criminalise homosexual acts today, over half are former British colonies. France introduced similar laws around the same time.

Britain forced its anti-LGBTQ+ laws onto most of its colonies. Negative societal attitudes and state criminalisation have remained ever since.

Violating the Commonwealth Charter

Tatchell noted:

Six Commonwealth countries have life imprisonment. Millions of LGBTQ+ Commonwealth citizens are at risk of arrest, jail time, mob violence and discrimination in employment, housing, education and health care.

These anti-LGBTQ+ laws violate the Commonwealth Charter which pledges that all member states are ‘committed to equality’ and are ‘opposed to all forms of discrimination.’

Most Commonwealth leaders refuse to recognise that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. For 75 years, they’ve vetoed any discussion of the issue at their heads of government meetings.

Countries that criminalise LGBTQ+ people should be suspended from the Commonwealth.

The protest will urge all Commonwealth governments to:

  • Decriminalise same-sex relationships.
  • Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Enforce laws against threats and violence, to protect LGBTQ+ people from hate crimes.
  • Consult and dialogue with their LGBTQ+ organisations.

The six Commonwealth countries that have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for same-sex acts are: Bangladesh, Guyana, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Featured image via

Source link