FINAL APPEAL: Lobby the Commonwealth on LGBTI rights
Sign the petition to the Commonwealth leaders
Most of the Commonwealth still criminalise homosexuality
London, UK – 17 October 2011
Our last chance to TAKE ACTION. There is one week left to lobby the Commonwealth leaders to support LGBTI human rights.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) takes place in Perth Australia from 28-30 October.
Peter Tatchell writes:
Here are three ways you can help press the Commonwealth leaders to support LGBTI human rights at CHOGM:
1. Sign this petition organised by a coalition of HIV organisations: http://bit.ly/pMjPCf
2. Email the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma:
When you email, ask that these four issues are put on the official CHOGM agenda and are agreed by Commonwealth leaders:
- Decriminalisation 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 local LGBTI organisations
See this sample letter to the Commonwealth Secretary General, which you can copy or adapt: http://bit.ly/omjs0c
More than 40 of the 54 Commonwealth member states continue to punish same-sex behaviour with criminal sanctions.
Over half the world's countries that criminalise homosexuality belong to the Commonwealth. Penalties include life imprisonment in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana.
We hope this year’s CHOGM will be the breakthrough; ending decades of silence and inaction by Commonwealth leaders concerning violations of LGBTI human rights.
I applaud and congratulate the organisations that put LGBTI rights on the agenda of the Commonwealth People's Forum (CPF) at CHOGM in 2007 and 2009. But the CPF is an ngo side event. Although worthy, it is not the official Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
This current campaign is an attempt to get LGBTI human rights on the official CHOGM agenda and discussed by Commonwealth Prime Ministers and Presidents (they have always previously refused to do).
I commend the work of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), based in Accra, New Delhi and London. I was privileged to work with CHRI and a global coalition of LGBTI organisations to publish this submission to CHOGM:
Civil Society Statement of Action on the Decriminalisation of Adult Same Sex Conduct in the Commonwealth.
Read it here: http://bit.ly/oJeCXN
Huge thanks to the many worldwide LGBTI human rights groups that contributed to the Civil Society Statement – a magnificent example of global cooperation and solidarity. It adds to the equally important efforts of other LGBTI organisations, networks and coalitions which are also lobbying the Commonwealth.
Many different LBGTI groups are lobbying the Commonwealth in many different ways. All are important and valuable. All contribute to our common goal. One method does not exclude another. They are complementary.
I very strongly support the bid by 15 LGBTI organisations from the global south to secure representation at the Commonwealth People's Forum in Perth later this month. Their exclusion is disgraceful. I have written to the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation, urging that they be given representation.
Much gratitude to everyone who is working to raise LGBTI human rights within the Commonwealth. Every method and every initiative is valued.
Big thanks for your help.
Peter Tatchell, London, UK