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Next Week’s Commonwealth Summit ‘Our Best Chance Ever for LGBTI Rights’

Next Week’s Commonwealth Summit ‘Our Best Chance Ever for LGBTI Rights’

 

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will call for an end to the laws criminalizing homosexuality at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia, next week.

This announcement follows intense lobbying of Mr Rudd by LGBT activists from the global north and the global south.

Rudd’s spokeswoman said:

Australia is a global advocate of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Australia encourages all countries to decriminalise homosexuality by removing all laws imposing criminal penalties for homosexual conduct. Mr Rudd will be raising these matters with Commonwealth foreign ministers at CHOGM.

Australia is encouraging all governments to respond substantively to the EPG recommendations (for decriminalisation).

Mr Rudd is the host of CHOGM and will have significant influence over the Commonwealth summit’s deliberations.

Lobbying the Commonwealth is paying off, said human rights activist Peter Tatchell:

It is great news. Australia did not push for decriminalisation at the last Commonwealth summit, held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009. This announcement is positive progress.

Huge thanks to the many LGBTI groups and individuals from all over the world who lobbied Kevin Rudd and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma.

I wrote to Kevin Rudd on 5 September, urging him to ensure that LGBTI rights are on the official agenda at the Commonwealth summit. Mr Rudd responded with a commitment to press for gay law reform throughout the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth advisory body, the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which includes the openly gay retired High Court judge Michael Kirby, has recommended that Commonwealth countries repeal legislation criminalizing homosexuality on the grounds that anti-gay laws are hampering efforts to combat the spread of HIV.

Commonwealth countries comprise 30% of the world’s population but have more than 60% of the world’s people living with HIV.

The EPG report is part of the formal Commonwealth agenda. Its report, ‘Time for Urgent Reform’, has been leaked. It says that:

The Commonwealth could cease to exist unless it takes stronger, more public stands against egregious human rights violations in its member countries.

The leak to Canada’s National Post includes a promise by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to join those raising LGBT rights at the summit.

The EPG report contains a proposal for a new Commissioner for Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights. It has been reported that this post could be taken by the openly gay former Australian High Court judge Michael Kirby.

Meanwhile, Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana, has added his voice to calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality and sex work in order to help reduce HIV rates.

He told the BBC’s Africa Network:

“You have to assist them to protect themselves. I don’t think by arresting them you help them.”

Mogae is the leader of the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation group of African elders, which includes former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda who has also spoken against sodomy laws.

These are the four proposals that LGBT campaigners want to see on the CHOGM agenda and that they want all Commonwealth member states to adopt:

  • Decriminalization of homosexuality
  • Laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • The enforcement of legislation against threats and violence, to protect LGBTI people from hate crimes
  • Consultation and dialogue with LGBTI organizations

These four demands echo proposals previously expressed by a coalition of LGBT campaigners from the global south at meetings of the Commonwealth People’s Forum, an NGO side event to the main CHOGM.

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36 comments

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3:18AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

To Christopher C and Co; Here in Brighton UK, we have an old saying "Not that old chestnut" and that old chestnut means you are defending yourself with attack is the best form of defence and nonsensical logic. Let me repeat myself; I and anyone else don’t have any right to tell you what to do or what not to do in your private lives, especially when it is between consenting adults, but I and people like me, do have a right to an opinion, when what you are doing will affect my Grandchildren’s lives and what they are taught as being normal. The LGBT, have a nasty habit of calling everyone who objects to their demands as homophobic or closet homosexuals; let me inform you of this fact; buggery has no appeal to the majority of people and never will. So please adhere to the real arguments and the real concerns held by heterosexual people for their own innocent and gullible children, so please reply in a polite manner from now on and stick to the real debate.

3:17AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

To Christopher C and Co; Here in Brighton UK, we have an old saying "Not that old chestnut" and that old chestnut means you are defending yourself with attack is the best form of defence and nonsensical logic. Let me repeat myself; I and anyone else don’t have any right to tell you what to do or what not to do in your private lives, especially when it is between consenting adults, but I and people like me, do have a right to an opinion, when what you are doing will affect my Grandchildren’s lives and what they are taught as being normal. The LGBT, have a nasty habit of calling everyone who objects to their demands as homophobic or closet homosexuals; let me inform you of this fact; buggery has no appeal to the majority of people and never will. So please adhere to the real arguments and the real concerns held by heterosexual people for their own innocent and gullible children, so please reply in a polite manner from now on and stick to the real debate.

12:01AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

Kenny...I agree with you re: Emanuel V...sounds like he did forget his meds!

11:57PM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

Steve R & Jill R...the issues that are in this article are one of "MANY" world problems just as you said. So how come you two became "judge and jury" to decide what is or is not more important?!? Jill...did you read at all what Alice said? It's not about "stopping the world and letting a few get their way", it's about protecting the rights of not only LGBT persons, but everyone! Crimes against humanity is no color barrier and can happen to anyone! Unfortunately, the crimes against LGBT persons can be twice or 3 times as severe as hetro/straight persons.

As Alice said "We need to have UNITY, not to be misled by divide-and-conquer dogma and/or propaganda that only benefits the worst of the worst on our Planet, and that only temporarily because in the long run bigotry and hatred hurt us ALL." Thanks Alice!

11:51PM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

Dawid & Paul C: The fact you show up in the LGBT forums time after time proves beyond a shadow of any doubt that your both struggling within yourselves regarding your own sexuality. Your "stuck" in a marriage and trying to do the right thing in the eyes of your family to keep them all happy, while during the mean time making yourself miserable. Then just like Ted Haggert, George Rekers, Eddie Long and countless other so-called "men of faith" try to live a dual life. Eventually you'll get caught and outed. And all this could have been avoided if you had the courage to come out as a happy and proud LGBT person long before you dug yourself in as deep as you have. I feel sorry for you both.

11:38PM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

2:47PM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

Likewise Paul C., God will be your judge when it comes to the hatred and indifference you hold towards others. It's a 2 way street and you're not perfect by any means either, although to read your posts you act like you're a paragon of Christian virtue while insinuating that those that support human rights, gay rights and love their neighbors are immoral heathens that will be condemned to the bowels of hell. You're also spreading your alarmist, anti-gay propaganda then correlating it with being a God fearing Christian. Doesn't that amount to blasphemy, or have you thumped that bible so hard you've lost all sense of compassion and reality? Equality for all! We are all human beings and threads woven into the tapestry of life.

2:44AM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

A message to all those who appose my views; PLEASE ADHERE to addressing the points I am making, which are, the future sexual identity of the innocent children who are being used in this LGBT experiment as if they were disposable guinea pigs and the issue about demanding the rights to marry as if they were a male and a female. Unfortunately they won’t do that, because they can’t defend the indefensible. Instead of dismissing the real issues involved here by Christian bashing or accusing people with my views as homophobic; God will be your judge in the end when it comes to your own choice of life style, but the welfare of the children must be for the public here on earth to judge, or God will judge us for what we didn’t do to protect them.

4:17PM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

PAUL C...Its not up to (as you put it) "all the christians of the world" to decide what is best for anyone especially gays with all the torture and torment the christian religion has caused gays, blacks, muslims and anyone else YOUR KIND finds unworthy of being happy. Christianity is for the mentally ill. Stay away from me.

EMANUEL V...As usual, there is something severely wrong with you. Take your pills.

2:24PM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

I can't even finish reading some of these responses, they're ignorant, paranoid, misinformed and absolutely ridiculous. I'd like to say "you know who you are", but I'm afraid you don't. Very sad.

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