More than a billion people are still living under British anti-gay laws
The UK government today announced it would pardon men convicted of historical gay sex offences but for many people around the world, the laws are far from history.
The government today announced that thousands of gay and bisexual men who were convicted under historical anti-gay laws will be posthumously pardoned, creating a Turing’s Law.
However, around the world, anti-gay laws originating in Britain aren’t an archaic part of history – they are an archaic part of the present.
Many Commonwealth countries continue to enforce penal codes that were first introduced under the British Empire, and never repealed.
In total 40 out of the 53 Commonwealth member states still criminalise homosexuality – from Barbados to Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka to Tonga.
India’s government has resisted a push to decriminalise homosexuality, after the country’s Supreme Court restored their Colonial-era penal code in 2013.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland. recently said the Commonwealth needs to build a consensus on the issue.
She said: “What we have to accept is that this [decriminalising homosexuality] is something that will depend on consensus.
“We do not have the right or opportunity to force states, but we can start a really good conversation to work with them so they understand the economic issues in relations to human rights and make the change.
“The one thing I have to do is to build consensus and trust and I can hope it will be on the Commonwealth Agenda.”
The UK government recently praised reform in the Seychelles, after it agreed to push forward with plans to repeal the country’s British Colonial-era anti-gay law.
Confirming the move, the Seychelles government had specifically noted advocacy from British diplomats.