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UK must do more to support LGBT rights globally, report suggests

Joe Williams April 14, 2016
Uganda Pride

The report says more action is needed to tackle serious breaches of LGBT rights globally.

The UK government needs to do more to support the rights of LGBT globally, a report released today by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights (APPG LGBT) has said.

After an inquiry into global LGBT issues lasting several months, the report calls for increased scrutiny on the issue from across the UK – from the government, NGOs and businesses.

The group – which is supported by more than 100 MPs and Peers across the political parties – initiated a major inquiry into LGBT rights abuses in order to tackle the ongoing problems many still face.

75 countries currently criminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults, which accounts for an incredible 2.9 billion people worldwide – or 40 per cent of the world’s population.

A staggering 400 million people currently live under laws which punish same-sex sexual activity with the death penalty.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people continue to face widespread criminalisation, violence, discrimination and exclusion across the world,” the report states.

“Despite progress in many parts of the world, serious human rights violations remain a feature of the lives of LGBT people.

“Speaking out about these abuses is important – but condemning is not enough.

“We need to ensure that the stances taken in the UK, whether by the government, politicians, civil society or businesses are effective, and also that interventions are not counter-productive.”

Although the government has shown a “clear commitment” to supporting the rights of LGBT people globally, the report argues that more practical support is needed, along with increased funding for LGBT groups.

The report goes on to suggest that the government needs to stand to together on the issue and communicate more effectively in order to improve the effectiveness of British action.

Among its key recommendations, the report says that “there is a pressing need for the development and implementation of a coherent,co-ordinated cross-Whitehall strategy for promoting equality for LGBT people around the world.”

In order to help this process, the group calls for a “clearly accountable figure” to be appointed in Whitehall with the responsibility for co-ordinating and implementing a cross-government strategy.

The 60-page report is the first produced by the APPG LGBT which was set up by parliamentarians from across the political parties in June last year.

Conservative MP Nick Herbert, who chairs the group, said that the UK needs to “maximise” the impact our support has on tackling these issues globally.

“Speaking out about LGBT abuses is important – but condemning is not enough. We need to ensure that the stances taken in the UK, whether by the government, politicians, civil society or businesses are effective, and also that interventions are not counter-productive”, he said.

“The government’s commitment to LGBT rights is to be applauded, but more needs to be done to focus the UK’s support for LGBT people facing human rights abuses around the world, and to maximise the impact which we can make collectively.

“There is good work going on in government departments, but there needs to be greater strategic co-ordination of these efforts across Whitehall, and more support for LGBT groups on the ground who are often fighting lonely and brave battles in very hostile environments.

He added the government also need to “ensure that no-one is any doubt about its commitment to champion the rights of LGBT people globally”, before reminding the private sector and NGOs of “the important role” they also have to play.

Lord Cashman, Vice-Chair of the APPG LGBT and Labour’s Special Envoy on LGBT issues, called the rights violations still faced by LGBT people “both concerning and deeply disturbing.”

“The APPG has heard evidence from individuals who have faced extreme persecution, violence and death threats,” he added.

“The range of challenges facing LGBT people globally, in terms of violence, health and poverty, requires a co-ordinated response that brings together government, civil society and business.”

Read the full report here.

More: APPG, Homophobia, LGBT, Lord Michael Cashman, Nick Herbert

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