Tom Daley has called on the Commonwealth’s member states criminalising homosexuality to “correct this terrible injustice.”
Ahead of the week-long summit, which took place in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on 24 and 25 June, the Olympic athlete joined the Peter Tatchell Foundation in condemning the persecution of LGBTQ+ people.
“Shockingly, half the countries in the world that criminalise homosexuality are in the Commonwealth, which is why I support efforts by the Peter Tatchell Foundation and others to correct this terrible injustice. It is time that the criminalisation of LGBT+ people is ended,” Daley stated.
“I believe the Commonwealth should be a forum that protects the rights of all its citizens. It should not support governments that make criminals out of millions of LGBT+ people.”
The criticism comes as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting once again failed to put LGBTQ+ rights and equality on the agenda – despite a number of its member states still inflicting harsh punishments, such as the death penalty, on members of the community.
Peter Tatchell, one of the UK’s most prominent human rights activists, slammed the Commonwealth for being a “homophobic institution” for being “a bastion of anti-LGBT+ laws, discrimination and hate crime.”
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He continued: “LGBT+ issues have never been discussed, not even once, by Commonwealth leaders at any of their summits over the last three decades.”
“Surely, in 2022, Commonwealth heads of government should address the state-sanctioned persecution of millions of LGBT+ Commonwealth citizens.
“Most of these anti-gay laws were imposed by Britain during the colonial era in the nineteenth century. They are not authentic indigenous laws. Now that these nations are independent, they should be repealed as a continuation of the decolonisation process.
“The Commonwealth Secretariat is an abject failure. It has sold out LGBT+ communities across the Commonwealth. The Secretary General, Baroness Scotland, has shown no leadership; failing to speak out publicly against the intensified persecution of LGBTs in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda.”
Tatchell is among the LGBTQ+ campaigners calling on the Commonwealth to help the community in the following ways:
- Decriminalise same-sex relations
- Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
- Enforce laws against threats and violence, to protect LGBTQ+ people from hate crime
- Consult and dialogue with LGBTQ+ organisations
This year’s summit of world leaders was the first since 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the one scheduled for 2020.
Key talking points among those in attendance were the election of a Secretary-General, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, post-pandemic recovery and general global health.