The biggest ever coalition of LGBTI organisations from across the Commonwealth, including Australia’s Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation, has come together to contribute to a damning report which demands Commonwealth leaders take action to stop widespread human rights abuses against LGBTI people.
Abuses including attempted murder, beatings and harassment and are described in the Speaking Out report, published by the Kaleidoscope Trust, with contributions from over 20 LGBTI organisations and testimonies of homophobia from almost every Commonwealth state.
“I have lost two teeth, had my family property invaded and car damaged by two masked men . . . I have had stones thrown at me, experienced simulated gun shots, insults and physical harm on public transportation,” says Caleb Orozco, a gay man from Belize.
Homosexuality is still illegal in 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member states. The report which is backed by Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth and Dr Purna Sen, former Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth, demands the Commonwealth take action to address this injustice.
“It is a reminder that for most of the countries of the Commonwealth, the desecration of our fellow citizens began in the law... As with the abolition of slavery, the decriminalisation of homosexuality in our time must be an act of law,” says Sir Shridath Ramphal, in his Foreword to Speaking Out.
“Across the Commonwealth lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people are denied equal access to rights, education, employment, housing and healthcare. Once again we see Commonwealth leaders gathering at the Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM), pushing aside the urgent need to protect every citizen under the law. Once again the human rights of LGBTI people are the elephant in the room,” adds Dr Purna Sen, in her introduction.
The report demands that all Commonwealth governments:
- Repeal any legislation which criminalises same-sex sexual activity
- Put in place an immediate moratorium on the enforcement of any existing laws criminalising homosexuality
- Commit to engage in meaningful dialogue with their LGBTI communities to facilitate an informed debate about the means to remove all legal and other impediments to the enjoyment of their human rights
- 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.
Published on November 13, 2013 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization