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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to visit Tonga, where gay sex is illegal, during first royal tour

Claire Toureille September 10, 2018
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Catalyst Inc science park in Belfast where they met some of Northern Ireland's brightest young entrepreneurs on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Nothern Ireland. (Photo by Niall Carson - Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Belfast, Nothern Ireland (Niall Carson - Pool/Getty)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are about to embark on their first ever royal tour and will visit the Kingdom of Tonga, where gay sex is still illegal.

This will mark the couple’s first official tour since their wedding on May 19. Kensington Palace released the dates of the tour as well as their detailed itinerary today.

According to the palace, the couple will focus on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts in the four Commonwealth countries.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham. (Chris Jackson/Getty)

One wonders whether Harry and Meghan will discuss LGBT+ rights with the royal family of Tonga. Before their wedding, the royal couple pledged to make LGBT+ rights their priority and dedicate their charitable work to this issue.

In Tonga, homosexuality can lead to 10 years imprisonment, however, the small state’s LGBT+ community is very active, and some Tongan royals have publicly spoken out against homophobia.

Just a day before Harry and Meghan tied the knot in Windsor, a member of the Tongan royal family criticised rugby player Israel Folau after he shared his homophobic views with the public.

Folau is of Tongan descent, a fact that didn’t escape the Honorable Frederica Tuita Filipe, the daughter of Tonga’s Princess Royal.

“Obviously the way we represent our interpretation of God’s word & love is different,” she wrote on Twitter.

“My silence was my attempt at respecting our different interpretations but I fear by doing that I’m encouraging the marginalisation of a group of people I love & serve as much as any other Tongan.”

Israel Folau of the Wallabies (Cameron Spencer/Getty)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also be visiting Fiji, where same-sex marriage is banned. However, laws were introduced in 2013 that protects people from discrimination based on sexual preferences.

Britain's Prince Harry (R) and his fiancee, US actress Meghan Markle, attend a reception with delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Forum in central London on April 18, 2017, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM). / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Yui Mok (Photo credit should read YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet activists (YUI MOK/AFP/Getty)

A majority of the countries in the Commonwealth—36 out of 53—continue to criminalise same-sex acts, primarily under laws imposed during the British Colonial era which were never repealed.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Youth Forum back in April, Prince Harry had told activists that the “tide [was] changing” on LGBT+ rights.

“He said it’s time for us all to acknowledge that your inclusion and protecting everyone’s rights – including LGBTI rights – benefits everyone,” activist Jaz Dawson told PinkNews.

Dawson added Harry told the crowd of activists: “We want to be on the right side of history.”

The royals’ autumn tour will last for about two weeks and take place from October 16 to 31.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also be visiting Australia and New Zealand and will be joined by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

More: automn tour, duke and duchess of Sussex, fiji, Kingdom of Tonga, LGBT rights, LGBT rights tonga, meghan markle, prince harry, Royal tour, Tonga, Tonga

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