Commonwealth Games protest against homophobia

Date: Wednesday 16 July 2014
Time: 18:00-19:30
Venue: 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA
All invited
42 of the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality, with penalties up to life imprisonment in at least seven member states – plus the death penalty in parts of northern Nigeria and rural Pakistan, and the scheduled introduction of death by stoning in Brunei.

We are urging:
1. David Cameron to speak out against Commonwealth homophobia and transphobia before and during the Commonwealth Games – and to declare his support for non-discrimination, in accordance with Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games
2. Glasgow 2014 organisers to make a statement of equality and inclusivity – including a specific welcome and support for LGBTI athletes, officials and spectators
3. LGBTI athletes to come out – if it is safe for them to do so
4. The UK to grant asylum to LGBTI athletes and officials who have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their home countries.

“We are appealing to Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out against homophobia and transphobia in the Commonwealth in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, which start in Glasgow on 23 July. We also want him to express his public support for Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution, which prohibits any form of discrimination – including discrimination in athlete selection for the national teams,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy ngo, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation has already written the Commonwealth Games organisers to urge them to ensure that all Commonwealth countries competing at Glasgow pledge their commitment to Article 7:

“Given the extreme homophobia and transphobia in most Commonwealth countries, it is very unlikely that most national selection committees would allow a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or inter-sex (LGBTI) athlete to compete at Glasgow. David Cameron can help by making clear that such discrimination is incompatible with Commonwealth Games values and rules,” added Mr Tatchell.

“We want the Prime Minister to give a lead and set a positive tone by publicly declaring that anti-LGBT persecution is a violation of the Commonwealth Charter and that LGBTI athletes will be welcome in Glasgow. We are asking him to state his support for Article 7 and to make it clear that no country should be permitted to discriminate with regard to who they select for the up-coming games. He should make clear that the UK government is willing to give asylum to LGBTI athletes who are at risk of victimisation in their county of origin,” said Mr Tatchell.

Wednesday’s rally is organised by the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, with the support of the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Rainbows Across Borders.

Edwin Sesange, coordinator of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, said:

“The Commonwealth Games is a major international sporting event and a great opportunity for the Prime Minister speak out against anti-LGBTI persecution by 80% of Commonwealth member states. We want him to press the Glasgow 2014 organisers to make equality a key theme of the games. This would be a unique, pioneering achievement; setting a non-discrimination standard for future games organisers to follow.

“The UK government prides itself on the progress it has made for gay rights. David Cameron vowed to help defend LGBTI rights around the world. His promises have not, however, been backed with sufficient action. This is his chance to make amends.

“Far from moving towards equality, we have seen many Commonwealth countries witch-hunt their LGBTI citizens and even tougher anti-gay laws have been recently legislated in countries like Uganda, Brunei and Nigeria.

“Britain imposed most of the existing anti-gay laws in Commonwealth nations when it was the colonial power in the nineteenth century. Homosexuality was not illegal in these countries prior to British colonisation.

“Britain has been part of the problem. Therefore it should be part of the solution by challenging homophobia and transphobia in the Commonwealth. David Cameron should show leadership by taking a stand against the victimisation of LGBTI people and promoting the universal human rights values of the Commonwealth Charter,” said Mr Sesange.