London – Forty, mostly African, LGBT+ protesters shouted “Stop Commonwealth homophobia” as King Charles and Commonwealth leaders arrived at Westminster Abbey March 13th for the annual Commonwealth Day service. They were demanding the repeal of anti-LGBT+ laws and “protection, not persecution.” Thirty-two out of 56 Commonwealth member states criminalize 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. Peter Tatchell, head 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 terrorize 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 organization. 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.”
Edwin Sesange of the African Equality Foundation, 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. (Peter Tatchell Foundation at Petertatchellfoundation.org)
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