Mixed reaction to Commonwealth Charter
There has been mixed reaction to a new Commonwealth Charter which upholds human rights but does not specifically mention LGBTI people.
The document which will be signed by the Queen today, states: "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”
The 'other grounds' has been interpreted as meaning sexual orientation and gender identity, a sensitive topic since homosexual acts are illegal in 41 of the Commonwealth's 54 member states.
With many commentators hailing it as a brave move and a "watershed" moment, others are less enthusiastic.
Ben Summerskill, the head of Britain's Stonewall LGBTI rights organisation said it would be "churlish" not to acknowledge this may be a first step towards equality in some Commonwealth countries.
"We would of course be much happier if the terms would be addressed and discussed openly," Summerskill said.
"But if addressing them obliquely is a first step, we should be happy about that.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was far more critical of the refusal to mention LGBTI rights.
“While I doubt that Elizabeth II is a raging homophobe, she certainly doesn’t appear to be gay-friendly," Tatchell said.
"Not once during her reign has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the LGBT community.
“While she has spoken approvingly of the UK’s many races and faiths, for six decades she has ignored LGBT Britons. If she treated black and Asian Britons in the same way, she’d be denounced as a racist. Why the double standards?”
The charter does specifically enshrine the rights of women.
We recognise that gender equality and women's empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights," the charter states.
"The advancement of women's rights and the education of girls are critical preconditions for effective and sustainable development."
The Charter which was endorsed by all Commonwealth heads of government last year, will also make changes to the rule of succession ending discrimination against female children. It will mean the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first baby can succeed to the throne, regardless of whether the child is a girl or a boy.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman the press: "The Queen, as in all matters, is apolitical but is signing the document in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth."