This week, Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary General, slammed Commonwealth homophobia with his statement that “vilification and targeting on grounds of sexual orientation are at odds with the values of the Commonwealth”.
It is thought that this is the first time a Commonwealth chief has made such a strong statement against homophobia and in favour of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across the world.
Sharma made the comments this week during the opening of the Commonwealth Law ministers meeting in Sydney, Australia, and also drew attention to the recent Delhi High Court ruling which decriminalised homosexual acts.
Matthew Sephton, Chairman of UK-based LGBTory, the Conservative Party’s affiliated LGBT group expressed backing for Mr Sharma, saying:
“I welcome the Secretary General’s strong message of support for LGBT people across the Commonwealth. It is truly appalling that, in 2011, among a group of nations that acknowledges the British Monarch as Head, there are many where homosexuality continues to be illegal, with extremely severe punishments possible in some of them.”
“It is so important that the Commonwealth begins to address the way LGBT communities are treated within its jurisdiction by barbaric and draconian laws which still exist in some member countries. I applaud the steps already being taken by the UK Government to use our position of influence in many such countries but there is still a long way to go. Kamalesh Sharma’s statement is an important step forward along the path to a brighter, more inclusive future for all, and this pro-active approach must continue.”
Commonwealth countries with very well-documented human rights problems are Pakistan, Uganda, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi and Malaysia