In an historic move, Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted that her nation, Britain, was wrong for exporting its anti-LGBTI laws to other Commonwealth countries, which it ruled over.
The Prime Minister’s apology was given while speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London on Tuesday, April 17.
Prime Minister May, officially took the opportunity and addressed calls by LGBTI activists to apologise for Britain’s role in the criminalisation of homosexuality in its former colonies.
“As the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, I deeply regret the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today,” May explained.
While the United Kingdom may have moved on, and progressed from its anti-LGBTI laws of old, 36 out of the 53-member countries of the Commonwealth still criminalise same-sex relations, accounting for around half of the world’s nations where homosexuality is illegal.
“Across the world, discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls,” May added in her speech.
“I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.”
May continued, “As a family of nations, we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions, but we must do so in a manner consistent with our common value of equality … a value that is clearly stated in the Commonwealth charter.”
“Recent years have brought progress. The three nations that have most recently decriminalised same-sex relationships are all Commonwealth members, and since the heads of government last met, the Commonwealth has agreed to accredit its first organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
“Yet there remains much to do. Nobody should face discrimination or persecution because of who they are or who they love.”
“The UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible because the world has changed,” May said.
The Prime Ministers apology follows recent protest action, and activists delivering a petition signed by 104,115 people to Commonwealth headquarters in London demanding an end to the criminalisation of homosexuality among member countries.