The Scottish National Party’s LGBT group has put pressure on Scotland’s Minister for External Affairs to attempt to amend the recently signed Commonwealth charter, which protects against discrimination, but does not specifically mention LGBT people.
Earlier this week, Queen Elizabeth II signed the charter, and it was thought that she might mention the LGBT community in her accompanying speech, however she did not.
The charter, which has come under fire from LGBT rights advocates, reads: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds,” but does not specifically mention LGBT people.
Stewart McDonald, the convener for the SNP’s LGBT wing, Out for Independence, wrote to Humza Yousaf MSP, to urge him to propose an amendment to the charter to be inclusive of LGBT people, and for Scotland to “stand with” those living in the Commonwealth “in fear of persecution”.
He wrote that Out for Independence was “extremely disappointed that the charter does not explicitly mention that it is against discrimination on the basis of sexuality.
“Homosexuality is a criminal offence in 41 of the 54 nations that make up the Commonwealth. Two Commonwealth countries currently permit the death penalty for homosexuality, five impose life sentences and one permits the use of torture by flogging.”
He continues: “The case for including sexuality as a form of discrimination is clear.”
“I do not believe that it is acceptable whilst citizens of the Commonwealth are still living in fear of persecution, that the UK Government can endorse a charter which is completely silent on their right to live freely and without fear of persecution, prosecution or death.
“By not explicitly including sexuality as a form of discrimination, a real opportunity has been missed by the Commonwealth and UK Government to make the case for LGBT equality for citizens across Commonwealth nations.”
He goes on to mention the fact that Scotland is gearing up to host the Commonwealth Games next year, and says that Scotland has “a unique opportunity to promote equal rights for LGBT people across the Commonwealth and beyond.”
He then urges Mr Yousaf to attempt to amend the charter to be explicitly inclusive of LGBT, in order to show that Scotland “stands with” those living “in fear of persecution”.
Peter Tatchell wrote that the Queen’s silence on gay rights excludes and disrespects gay people, and that by not mentioning it, the monarchy “is homophobic – if not by conscious intent, then certainly by default.”
The Out For Independence Facebook page reads that it is the “SNP’s national LGBT movement for a fairer, more equal and independent Scotland”.