Commonwealth urged to discuss LGBT rights
Australian-born UK human rights activist Peter Tatchell has urged Commonwealth leaders to discuss LGBT issues, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality, at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
The CHOGM is a biennial summit meeting involving the leaders of government from all Commonwealth nations and will take place in Perth on October 28-30 this year.
Despite gathering since 1971, LGBT rights issues have never been formally discussed.
Tatchell (pictured) has written to the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague calling on him to lobby the Australian Government as chair of this year’s summit to put LGBT issues on the agenda.
"CHOGM has never even discussed – let alone declared its support for – LGBT equality and human rights. It is long overdue that CHOGM addressed this humanitarian issue, which it has neglected for far too long.
"We hope that this year’s CHOGM will end these decades of silence and inaction,” Tatchell wrote.
In the letter, Tatchell noted that of the 54 countries that make up the Commonwealth, over 40 continue to uphold a total ban on homosexuality. He stated:
“These are the issues we would like to see on the CHOGM agenda and that we believe all Commonwealth member states should agree to enact:
1. Decriminalisation of homosexuality
2. Laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
3. The enforcement of legislation against threats and violence, to protect LGBT people from hate crimes
4. Consultation and dialogue with LGBT organisations."
Tatchell also criticised Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, for not speaking out against the recent arrest, jailing and mistreatment of men accused of homosexuality in Cameroon.