Homosexuality is still illegal in 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member states.
Today the Kaleidoscope Trust in London has published Speaking Out: The rights for LGBTI citizens from across the Commonwealth. This report outlines the often very challenging conditions faced by LGBTI persons in Commonwealth countries, where homosexuality remains illegal in 41 out of 53 member states.
The release of Speaking Out coincides with the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Although Canada has boycotted this meeting, we call on all Commonwealth member states to adopt the following:
All Commonwealth governments in countries which continue to criminalise same-sex sexual activity to repeal this legislation in accordance with:
• The Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international instruments including the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
• Article II of the Commonwealth Charter.
• Recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group adopted by the Foreign Ministers of all Commonwealth members.
As an immediate step towards meeting the obligations set out in these and other commitments to equal rights for all citizens we call on all Commonwealth leaders to:
• Commit to engage in meaningful dialogue with their own LGBTI communities to facilitate an informed debate about the means to remove all legal and other impediments to the enjoyment of their human rights.
• Put in place an immediate moratorium on the enforcement of existing laws criminalising homosexuality.
• Commit to open and free debate across the Commonwealth on the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
• Support public education initiatives to inform the people of the Commonwealth about the case for LGBTI equality.
• Support the right of an LGBTI Association to register with the Commonwealth alongside all civil society organisations and be free to express its views and engage in public debate.
• Fully include LGBTI people in development and other programmes on an equal basis with the rest of society.
• Commit to include a discussion on equal rights for LGBTI citizens as a substantive agenda item at the next CHOGM.