Peter Tatchell and LGBT activists to protest against homophobia in the Commonwealth
LGBT rights campaigners will protest outside Parliament during today’s Commonwealth Day celebrations to condemn homophobia in the member states.
A group of LGBT rights campaigners organised by the Peter Tatchell Foundation will protest against the criminalisation of homosexuality in 37 Commonwealth states.
The protest will take place as the Queen, members of the UK government and Commonwealth commissioners arrive at Westminister Abbey.
This protest is the first of several that are planned ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
According to the Peter Tatchell Foundation, these Commonwealth Heads of Government have previously refused to discuss LGBT+ issues.
Many Commonwealth countries continue to enforce penal codes that were first introduced under the British Empire, and never repealed.
They include 10 years imprisonment and hard labour in Jamaica, 14 years in Kenya, 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia, and 25 years in Trinidad and Tobago.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in member states Brunei and the northern part of Nigeria.
In a statement accompanying the protest, Peter Tatchell said: “In sixty years of Commonwealth summits, LGBT+ issues have never been discussed by leaders, not even once.
“Surely in 2018, as London plays host to the summit, we can at least have a discussion with the Commonwealth Heads of Government?
“100 to 200 million LGBT+ people are persecuted on a daily basis and treated as criminals in 70% of Commonwealth nations.”
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A 2015 poll conducted in the UK by YouGov for the AIDS Alliance found that people massively underestimate the scale of the issue – with most believing that just a handful of Commonwealth countries continue to persecute LGBT people.
The poll asked: “There are currently 53 countries in the Commonwealth. In your estimation, roughly how many of these do you think currently criminalise people for same-sex, sexual activity?”
Just nine percent of people correctly identified that more than 30 Commonwealth nations have anti-gay laws, with three-quarters of people either underestimating the issue or admitting they don’t know.
Half believed the number was lower than 20, 27 percent of people could make no guess at all, while 19 percent believed between 20 and 40 Commonwealth countries criminalise homosexuality.
Member states outlawing homosexuality include Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Kiribati and Tonga.