Time for the Commonwealth to show leadership on LGBT rights

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The Kaleidoscope Trust, which has the support of David Cameron and the leaders of all the main UK political parties, calls on those meeting at CHOGM to recognise and protect the rights of LGBT people in their own countries and engage in a meaningful dialogue with them in the interests of human rights and natural justice.

The Kaleidoscope Trust welcomes the promise by William Hague to support the inclusion of support for LGBT rights in the final communiqué of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. There are some encouraging signs of progress but the Trust believes that changing public opinion is as important as changing unjust laws and this can only come about through discussion and an open and honest debate.

Kaleidoscope Trust spokesman Bisi Alimi, who was forced to flee his native Nigeria because of its anti-gay laws, said: “Recent statements of support from Commonwealth leaders and others show that calls for these discriminatory laws to be scrapped are being heard at last.”

“Countries like India and South Africa have shown that legislation outlawing homosexuality can be repealed successfully. But the only way to make real progress towards ending discrimination and making the lives of gay and lesbian people safer is for the leaders to go away from Perth next week and start talking to their own people. The calls for justice are coming from the bottom as well as from the top and they can no longer be ignored.”

The Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, reaffirmed this week that Commonwealth values include ‘a clear commitment to tolerance, respect and understanding. This means we embrace difference, and that includes sexual identity. Discrimination and criminalisation on grounds of sexual orientation is at odds with our values.’ The Kaleidoscope Trust welcomes that commitment and urges the CHOGM meeting to support the proposal from the Eminent Person’s Group (EPG) for a new post of Commissioner for Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights.

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