On Monday, 6 December – and ahead of Human Rights Day on Friday, 10 December – LGBT+ human rights charity Kaleidoscope Trust hosted a celebration at the Institute of Directors to mark a decade of the charity’s work. Guests included the charity’s serving president, Lord Fowler; its founder (and former advisor to 10 Downing Street), Lance Price; the recently-appointed joint Minister for Equalities, Mike Freer MP; the recipient of Kaleidoscope Trust’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement award, Philippa Drew; and a host of colleagues, activists, influencers and allies.
The charity has been working within official Commonwealth structures for ten years to advocate for global LGBT+ rights, and the work undertaken by Kaleidoscope Trust has: directly influenced inclusive legislative change, increased funding for LGBT+ civil society organisations and elicited a recognition from former Prime Minister Theresa May of the legacy of harm resulting from “discriminatory laws made many years ago [that] continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls.”
At the event, Kaleidoscope Trust’s executive director, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, celebrated the work the charity has been able to do “through the deployment of a global community”, and cautioned against complacency: “None of our achievements, at home or abroad, can be taken for granted. The work, the passion, the fight must continue and we each have a role to play in ensuring no LGBT+ person is left behind.”
Kaleidoscope Trust does much of its work through The Commonwealth Equality Network: a group of over 60 organisations working on behalf of LGBT+ communities in every region of the Commonwealth. Through their role as host to the network’s Secretariat, Kaleidoscope Trust has secured and distributed more than £1 million pounds over the past three years directly to organisations working at local, national and international levels to advocate for LGBT+ human rights.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity collected data from dozens of LGBT+ civil society organisations in 37 countries, to better understand its unfolding impact. The subsequent reports found that Covid-19 exacerbated pre-existing discrimination, violence and inequities faced by LGBT+ people and organisations – and Kaleidoscope Trust was one of the first charities able to provide these important insights at a time of increased uncertainty for LGBT+ communities.
As evidenced by its work and impact, Kaleidoscope Trust has earned a unique and trusted place within the global ecosystem for change. Opoku-Gyimah will represent the charity via her appointment to the advisory panel of the UK’s Safe to Be Me conference – the largest multilateral LGBT+ event of 2022. Speaking about the opportunity the conference presents to the UK Government and civil society organisations, Opoku-Gyimah celebrated the example set by LGBT+ activists across the Commonwealth: “We must continue building on the resilience our global LGBT+ community has shown and use it to galvanise our advocacy and rebuilding efforts.
“As our societies continue to grapple with Covid-19 and its mutations, we must do all we can to ensure we put an end to the injustices that preceded the pandemic and which have only become worse. As we reopen our societies, we must continue to press forward.
“The future is ahead of us, not behind.”
About Kaleidoscope Trust
Kaleidoscope Trust, the UK-based charity working to uphold the human rights of LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth, was founded in 2011 to ensure the British government takes responsibility for its role in the subjugation, persecution and discrimination of LGBT+ people around the world – much of which is the result of homophobic colonial-era laws imported during the United Kingdom’s colonial rule. Our vision is a free, safe and equal world for LGBT+ people everywhere.
About The Commonwealth Equality Network
Established in 2013, The Commonwealth Equality Network is a network of organisations challenging inequality based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. The Network was set up to give a global voice to LGBTI+ communities across the Commonwealth and to support joint advocacy to provide an answer to the colonial legacy of homophobia – a Commonwealth solution to a Commonwealth problem.