Tom Daley condemns Commonwealth homophobia

Criticism comes ahead of Commonwealth Games this week


Most Commonwealth states would never select a known LGBT+ athlete

35 out of 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise homosexuality


London, UK – 25 July 2022


Olympic and Commonwealth gold medallist, Tom Daley, has joined with the Peter Tatchell Foundation to condemn the persecution of LGBT+ people in almost two-thirds of Commonwealth countries. The criticism comes ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this Thursday 28 July.

Tom Daley said:

“Thirty-five out of the 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relations. That’s half the countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. Seven Commonwealth nations have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment under laws imposed by Britain in the 19th century when it was the colonial power. 

“Every single person should be free to live their true authentic self, no matter where they are born or who they are. We must all keep working until everyone is free and equal.”

LGBT+ people from across the Commonwealth will protest at 1pm on Thursday 28 July at Aston Hall in Birmingham B6 6JD, as the baton arrives for the start of the Commonwealth Games. They will protest again the same day at 5pm at the main entrance to Alexander stadium.

Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:

“Despite the Commonwealth Games Federation claiming that the games are open to everyone, it would be impossible for a known LGBT+ athlete to be selected for the national team of two-thirds of the competing Commonwealth nations. They would be jailed, not selected – no matter how good they were.

 “In parts of one Commonwealth country, northern Nigeria, there is the death penalty for homosexuality and three alleged gay men have been recently sentenced to death by stoning after an unfair trial.

 “The criminalisation of LGBT+ people is in defiance of the Commonwealth Charter which these countries have signed and promised to uphold. It pledges equal rights and non-discrimination to all Commonwealth citizens.

 “The Commonwealth is a homophobic institution. It is a bastion of anti-LGBT+ laws, discrimination and hate crime. LGBT+ issues have never been discussed, not even once, by Commonwealth leaders at any of their summits over the last three decades.​

 “The Commonwealth Secretariat colludes with homophobia. It has sold out LGBT+ communities across the Commonwealth. The Secretary General, Baroness Scotland, has shown no leadership; failing to speak out publicly against the current intensified persecution of LGBTs in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Uganda,” said Mr Tatchell.  ​

 LGBT+ campaigners are urging the Commonwealth to: 

  • Decriminalise same-sex relations
  • Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Enforce laws against threats and violence, to protect LGBT+ people from hate crime
  • Consult and dialogue with LGBT+ organisations

“I have tried for 30 years to get the Commonwealth leader’s summit to discuss the criminalisation of LGBTs by more than 62% of the member states. They refuse and most also reject dialogue with their local LGBT+ communities,” added Mr Tatchell.

“Commonwealth countries account for more than half of the world’s 68 nations where same-sex relations are illegal. Anti-LGBT+ discrimination and hate crime are widespread and unchecked in most Commonwealth countries.”

“Millions of LGBT+ people living in Commonwealth nations have no legal protection against discrimination in employment, housing, education, health care and the provision of good and services. This makes a mockery of Commonwealth values and the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter,” concluded Mr Tatchell.