Sir Elton John backs Commonwealth LGBT activists in personal letter
Sir Elton John has backed young activists campaigning for LGBT rights in Commonwealth countries this week.
The campaigners held a conference on Monday and Tuesday, at the Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, aiming to tackle the stigma faced by the LGBT community within the Commonwealth.
Sir Elton and his husband, David Furnish, who have a house in Windsor, sent the youthful campaigners a personal letter of support and solidarity in their efforts to better LGBT rights.
The star called on everyone attending the conference to promote “cross-boundary dialogue to develop greater understanding, compassion and tolerance of an individual’s sexuality.”
Furnish, chair of the Elton John AIDS foundation, added: “Growing up in Canada, being part of the Commonwealth was a source of great pride.
“As an institution it has incredible potential to reset the balance in terms of human rights and human dignity. It would also have a huge impact on the HIV epidemic in the Commonwealth.”
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The event brought together student leaders, NGOs and policy makers to discuss how to improve LGBT rights across the former British Empire. Prominent attendees included Crispin Blunt MP and Lady Liz Barker.
Sir Stephen Wall, chairman of the Kaleidoscope Trust, which ran the event said: “This conference allowed the voices of young people from different countries and backgrounds to be heard and to send a message that the baton is passing to a new generation with a different and more inclusive view of the world.”
36 Commonwealth countries continue to criminalise same-sex relations and more than 90% of Commonwealth citizens live in an area which criminalises LGBT+ people.
Anti-LGBT laws in the Commonwealth were often first put on the statue books because of the British Empire.
Commonwealth Heads of Governments (CHOGM) are due to meet in London in April. The conference has urged them to uphold LGBT rights and to commit to decriminalising same-sex relations between consenting adults.