The ‘LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth’ conference was held at the University of Glasgow on Friday 18th July 2014, to coincide with the opening of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and to mark the challenging environment faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in Commonwealth states. The conference was led by Scotland’s Equality Network, with partners including the Kaleidoscope Trust, Pride Glasgow and Glasgow Human Rights Network. It drew speakers from across the Commonwealth, and involved a range of activists, policy-makers and organisations in discussion of how to improve the realisation of human rights for LGBTI people in Commonwealth states, and the role of Commonwealth institutions themselves.
Prominent speakers included Fiona Hyslop MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Dr Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Dr Purna Sen, former Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat and Chair of the Kaleidoscope Trust, Silvan Agius, Policy Coordinator (Human Rights) of the Government of Malta, Bisi Alimi, LGBT/HIV advocate and lecturer from Nigeria, and Monica Tabengwa, human rights defender and activist from Botswana. A full list of speakers can be seen here.
The day included several panels covering among other topics the role of religion and culture in understanding the politics of sexuality, connections between economic development and LGBTI human rights, the role of litigation and international human rights law in bringing about decriminalisation for LGBTI people, and challenges of transnational and cross-border activism. There was also a strong focus on intersex and trans issues.
Participants in the conference drew up and released a statement following the conference, noting that the human rights record of Commonwealth Member States on sexual orientation and gender identity is poor relative to all states worldwide, with 42 out of 53 member states criminalising some or all adult same-sex sexual behaviour.
Read the conference statement