32 Commonwealth nations criminalise LGBT+ people
London, UK – 13 March 2023
Forty, mostly African, LGBT+ protesters shouted “Stop Commonwealth homophobia” as King Charles and Commonwealth leaders arrived at Westminster Abbey today for the annual Commonwealth Day service.
They were demanding the repeal of anti-LGBT+ laws and “protection, not persecution.”
32 out of 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relations, in defiance of the “toothless” Commonwealth Charter. Seven have life imprisonment.
The protest coincided with Uganda’s legislators proposing a vicious new Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It is one of the most repressive laws in the world.
Today’s protest was supported by Out & Proud African LGBTI, African Equality Foundation and the Peter Tatchell Foundation – and was led by Ugandan LGBT+ people.
Most of the protesters were refugees who had fled homophobic persecution in Commonwealth countries.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill stipulates:
10 years jail for male & female homosexuality or for professing a LGBT+ identity.
10 years jail for touching with homosexual intent or claiming to be married to same-sex partner.
2-10 years jail for attempting homosexuality or having gay sex while HIV+.
1-7 years jail for providing premises to LGBTs.
2-5 years jail for promoting, advocating, funding or sponsoring homosexuality.
2 years jail for aiding & counselling homosexuality or conspiring to commit homosexuality.
In addition, LGBTs must pay compensation to their “victims.” Persons charged with aggravated same-sex offences must undergo forced HIV tests.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation said:
“The Commonwealth is a total sham for failing to speak out against the 32 Commonwealth nations that are allowed to terrorise LGBT+ people with impunity. The Uganda Bill is one of the most sweeping & draconian homophobic laws ever considered by any regime in the world. It would outlaw almost every aspect of LGBT+ existence, including LGBT+ identity, advocacy, funding and organisation. The bill violates Sections 2 and 4 of the Commonwealth Charter. It also breaches Article 21 of the Uganda constitution & Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter of Human & People’s Rights – both of which guarantee equal treatment and prohibit discrimination.”
Abbey Kiwanuka, a Ugandan activist with of the Out & Proud African LGBTI group said:
“Contrary to what the proposers of this bill claim, no one is recruiting anyone into homosexuality. Politicians in Uganda scapegoat LGBTs and use homosexuality as a pretext to divert people from questioning their failed policies. It’s high time Ugandans woke up and realised that homosexuality is not the cause of people’s suffering. The problem is the rotten, corrupt system that has undermined and deterred the country’s development. We are ready to fight this bill, and victory will be ours.”
Edwin Sesange of the African Equality Foundation, also from Uganda, added:
“A peaceful common future for the Commonwealth should be built on respect for human rights for everyone, including for LGBTI people. This cannot happen when LGBTIs are being persecuted. I call on the Commonwealth leadership to speak out and hold countries like Uganda accountable. They must respect human rights and uphold the values of the Commonwealth Charter. Uganda is exercising impunity and immunity with its persecution of LGBTI people. This must stop.”