Over 80,000 protestors have demanded the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 37 of the 53 Commonwealth nations, in London, during celebrations on Commonwealth Day 2018.
During the celebrations in which the Queen, the UK Prime Minister, and High Commissioners were in attendance, the 80,000 strong “LGBT+ rights defenders,” included LGBT+ people from across the Commonwealth and was coordinated by the Peter Tatchell Foundation working with 14 other UK-based human rights groups.
Encompassing over one billion people, 37 Of the 53 nations within the Commonwealth still outlaw homosexuality. Currently, 9 of those countries enforce legislation that punishes homosexuality with life imprisonment, and 2 countries (Nigeria and Pakistan), enforce the death penalty.
The protest at Westminster Abbey, occurred as dignitaries arrived for the celebration, and aimed to encourage leaders in the Commonwealth to push for the decriminalisation of same-sex relations, provide protection for LGBT+ people from hate crimes, and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“LGBT+ issues have never been discussed, not even once, by Commonwealth leaders at any of their summits over the last six decades,” said Tatchell, a veteran human rights campaigner.
“Surely, in 2018 the Commonwealth heads of government should address the state-sanctioned persecution of more than 100 million LGBT+ Commonwealth citizens?”
Campaigners are now turning their attention to encouraging individuals to sign a petition to the Commonwealth’s Secretary General. Currently, the petition has over 90,000 signatures and is timed to coincide with the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is being held in London and Windsor in April 2018.
“Commonwealth countries account for half of the world’s 72 nations where same-sex relations are illegal. Hate crimes against LGBT+ people are widespread and unchecked in these countries,” Tatchell explained.
“More than 100 million LGBT+ people living in Commonwealth counties have no legal protection against discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare and the provision of good and services. This makes a mockery of Commonwealth values and the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter.”
Tatchell adds, “The London summit is an opportunity to debate this issue and hear the voices of LGBT+ people from across the Commonwealth. It is time to end the unabated persecution.”