37 out of the 53 countries that make up the Commonwealth still have laws which criminalise gay sex.
Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on the leaders of Commonwealth countries to decriminalise gay sex. 37 countries still have laws which prohibit gay sex, nine countries have the maximum punishment being a life sentence in prison, and in Northern Nigeria, Brunei and rural areas of Pakistan, the death penalty can be enforced.
The petition calls for all Commonwealth countries to decriminalise gay sex, ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, protect LGBTQ people from hate crimes and to consult and engage in dialogue with national LGBTQ organisations.
The petition stater, Edwin Sesange, who works with the African Equality Foundation, said: “The demand for equality is no longer an issue for the minority but for the majority.
“I therefore thank all those who have managed to bring this issue to light.
“These signatures represent a need which can no longer be ignored by the leadership of the Commonwealth.
“I appeal to the leaders and other stakeholders to represent the views and voices of the innocent, oppressed, discriminated and persecuted LGBTI people.”
The petition can be signed here.
One Commonwealth country where things may be getting better for the LGBTQ community is Kenya. Judges are currently reviewing the African country’s penal code which outlaws “unnatural sex”. Their decision has the potential to either remove gay sex from this, or make gay rights in the country even worse. However, things may be leaning more towards the former, as the country recently ruled that forced anal examinations were illegal.