LGBT Rights in the Commonwealth
40 of the 53 states still have laws which criminalise same-sex relationships in some way
The Kaleidoscope Trust has published its biennial report on the state of LGBTI people’s rights across the Commonwealth. Speaking Out 2015 documents theCommonwealth’s poor record in protecting the rights of its LGBTI citizens and has been released in advance of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
There are hopeful signs that the Commonwealth is willing to reflect on how to improve this record. As a result of the Trust’s ongoing work with Commonwealth institutions for the first time in its history The Commonwealth People’s Forum, the official gathering of Commonwealth civil society, is hosting two session examining the challenges facing LGBTI people. Activists and policy makers will be looking at ways in which Commonwealth institutions and member states can do more to protect the rights of LGBTI people. The People’s Forum convenes in Malta 23-25 November in advance of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 27-29 November.
Speaking Out 2015 is a compilation of contributions from activists, human rights organisations and researchers which intends to deepen understanding of LGBTI rights of key Commonwealth policy makers and offer them a range of well-researched, practical policy recommendations to support change at all levels of the Commonwealth.
Speaking Out 2015 calls on the Commonwealth take action to overcome the discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI people through:
- Following the example of other multilateral forums including: the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights; the Organisation of American States and the UN Human Rights Council the Commonwealth must condemn violence on any grounds and make concrete efforts to prevent acts of violence and harassment committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
- Commit to open and free debate across the Commonwealth on how best to safeguard the rights of LGBTI people.
- Commit to include a discussion on equal rights for LGBTI citizens as a substantive agenda item at the next CHOGM.
- Engage in meaningful dialogue with their own LGBTI communities to facilitate an informed debate about the means to remove all legal and other impediments to the enjoyment of their human rights.
Dr Felicity Daly, Executive Director, Kaleidoscope Trust said: “While we welcome the positive changes for LGBTI people living in Commonwealth member states since the last CHOGM in 2013 - our report shows there is serious cause for concern remaining in every Commonwealth country. Speaking Out 2015 details LGBTI people are still criminalized in the majority of member states, and face violence, discrimination and significant barriers in accessing their rights to health, employment and education. The Commonwealth, as a network of states, institutions and civil society actors, must play a vital role in ensuring equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
We hope the report will increase public understanding and highlight the challenges facing LGBTI communities in the Commonwealth in the lead up to CHOGM and support the advocacy efforts of the Trust, The Commonwealth Equality Network and other human rights advocates engaging in the 2015 CHOGM.