Protesters demand that the Commonwealth decriminalises homosexuality
LGBT activists have rallied outside the Commonwealth headquarters to express concerns over the large number of Commonwealth countries that still criminalise homosexuality.
The rally was held on Wednesday, two days before the start of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, a biyearly gathering of leaders from Commonwealth countries.
Currently 40 out of the 53 member states criminalise homosexuality, including Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria and Brunei.
The African LGBTI organisation and the Out and Proud Diamond Group organised the rally, who are demanding that Commonwealth member states “decriminalise homosexuality and legislate equal rights for their LGBTI citizens, in accordance with the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Peter Tatchell, Veteran campaigner and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, also backed the rally, saying “For 66 years, the Commonwealth Summit (CHOGM) has refused to even discuss LGBTI human rights, let alone support LGBTI equality.
“This CHOGM is no different. They won’t even allow LGBTI rights on the agenda.”
“Ninety per cent of Commonwealth citizens live in Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence and where LGBTI people have no legal protection against discrimination and hate crime.
“It is state-sponsored homophobia and it is happening in 75% of the Commonwealth member nations, without any public rebuke by the Commonwealth leadership.”
Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI organisation, explained that many of the anti LGBT legislation in Commonwealth countries is the result of British colonialism, saying ““Most of these countries inherited their anti-gay laws from Britain when it was their colonial ruler.
“They are a colonial hang-over. The existence of these anti-gay laws over the last century has created a climate where many people believe that homophobic attitudes and laws are a part of their cultures.”
As part of the campaign, Mr Sesange has written letters to David Cameron and the Queen asking that they raise the subject of homosexuality being decriminalised at the CHOGM.