Commonwealth rights

Despite the Commonwealth’s formal commitment to democracy, human rights, equality and individual freedom, human rights abuses are widespread throughout most member states. These abuses variously include state executions, censorship, torture, detention without trial and restrictions on free speech and the right to protest. There is also frequent state-sanctioned discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality and religion or belief.

32 of the 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relations, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment. These member states account for half the countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality.

In May 2011, Peter Tatchell and the PTF succeeded in securing the first ever public commitment to LGBT rights by a Commonwealth Secretary General. Subsequent lobbying led to this commitment being reiterated at the Commonwealth Law Minister’s Meeting in July, and again at the Commonwealth People’s Forum in October that year.

We are now pushing to get LGBT rights formally adopted by the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHoGM), which takes place in the Rwanda in 2020.

The PTF is urging all Commonwealth countries to:

  1. Decriminalise homosexuality
  2. Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  3. Enforce laws against threats and violence, to protect LGBT people from hate crimes
  4. Consult and dialogue with LGBT organisations

Our Commonwealth LGBT+ campaign during the recent CHoGM held in London in April 2018, was filled with key successes:

  1. We secured a whopping 104,115 signatures on the petition urging decriminalisation & other LGBT+ demands, which was handed to the Commonwealth Assistant Secretary General.
  2. We helped persuade the Prime Minister Theresa May to ‘deeply regret‘ Britain’s imposition of anti-LGBT+ laws on colonised peoples in the nineteenth century, which helped highlight that many of the existing homophobic laws are not authentic, indigenous national legislation.
  3. We staged a vigil outside the Commonwealth HQ during the summit, attended by LGBT+s from across the Commonwealth, which generated masses of media coverage and public awareness about anti-LGBT+ persecution in 80% of Commonwealth countries – much more coverage and awareness than at any previous Commonwealth summit.

The fight for LGBT+ rights in the Commonwealth goes on and we will continue to be at the forefront of it.

Take Action

If you want to end the criminalisation of homosexuality by Commonwealth member states, support our initiatives here.

Please sign this petition urging an end to anti LGBT+ persecution in 36 out of 56 Commonwealth countries:

You can also email the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland: [email protected]

Thank her for speaking out against homophobia. Ask her to press the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the CHoGM task force to press all member states to decriminalise same-sex relations and to protect LGBT people against discrimination and hate crimes, in accordance with national and international human rights law.

For news releases and more information click here.