A coalition of high-profile UK and global LGBTQI+ rights movements are coalescing this week in a series of protests while The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that is taking place in the UK next week to demand that they put LGBTQIA+ rights at the top of the agenda. CHOGM leaders have previously always refused to discuss or support LGBT+ issues and concerns.
Peter Tatchell said: The Commonwealth is a bastion of homophobia. In defiance of the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter, 37 out of 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise LGBT+ people. Nine have life imprisonment. In parts of two countries – Pakistan and Nigeria – there is the death penalty. Even more Commonwealth countries fail to protect LGBT+ people against discrimination and hate crime – and reject dialogue with their local LGBT+ organisations. For six decades, the leaders at Commonwealth summits have refused to discuss, let alone support, equality for the estimated more than 100 million LGBT+ citizens living in the member states.
Hosted by groundbreaking Botswana born Trans ARTivist Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile who is the first outspoken transwoman from Botswana and in association with In Place of War, African Rainbow Family, African Equality Foundation, Rainbow Pilgrims, Peter Tatchell Foundation, Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time and more, the week of action includes vigils, street-interventions and performances. The walking tours will march across London’s key embassies which maintain homophobic legislation with speeches and creative civil disobedience by activists who have fled homophobic persecution.
Kat Kai Kol-Kes, ARTivist from Botswana said: The laws in Commonwealth states speak in languages inscribed on LGBT+ bodies as bleeding scars. The time has come for states to see these scars and for the cause of the Commonwealth to take responsibility for enabling the recovery process.
In the middle of the week there will be a vigil on Thursday 19th April 2018 entitled Stop LGBTQI+ Persecution in the Commonwealth Protest 1-2pm outside the HQ of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London (Marlborough House, Pall Mall) against the criminalisation of same-sex relations by 37 out the 53 Commonwealth member states. It will be joined by LGBTQI+ delegates from across the Commonwealth. The details of further events here.
The week of action demands that CHOGM 2018 organisers:
- Include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) human rights on the main CHOGM agenda
- Invite openly LGBTI people from the Commonwealth to address the CHOGM leaders.
Unfinished Business – LGBTQI+ Voices of the Revolution will end the week with a performance showcase that brings together an inspirational lineup of LGBTQI+ artists from the UK together with countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQI+ to celebrate and support the next generation of artists, activists and change-makers dedicated to ending homophobia, transphobia and all forms of oppression. It will provide public cultural platforms that will raise awareness outside the CHOGM conference walls agitating for a global movement of creative activism to decriminalise homosexuality everywhere and provide true freedom for all.
Mazharul Islam, LGBTQ activist from Bangladesh said: Two years have been passed since Xulhaz Mannan, the publisher and co-founder of Roopban and another LGBTQ activist were brutally murdered by religious activist in Bangladesh which is one of the commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is lifetime imprisonment under the section 377 penal code. As a LGBTQ activist from Bangladesh I want justice for my friends Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy and also want commonwealth leaders to take necessary steps to abolish the law against homosexuality among all the commonwealth countries including Bangladesh to give us the freedom to live in our own countries as any other normal citizen.
Please sign the petition here and share it far and wide. Further info here ‘2018 must be the year the entire Commonwealth recognises LGBT+ Rights’