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Commonwealth Secretary-General responds to LGBTI rights petition

Kamalesh Sharma, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, has responded to a petition calling on Commonwealth institutions and member states to take action on LGBTI rights. The petition was jointly delivered to the Commonwealth headquarters in London earlier this month by representatives of the Equality Network, the Kaleidoscope Trust and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Priyanka Chauhan, Acting Head of the Commonwealth Secretary-General's Office, received the petition.

The Secretary-General responded to the petition with a letter stating that 'equality and non-discrimination are important tenets of the Commonwealth Charter' and outlining ongoing work to build the capacity of national human rights institutions and parliaments to protect and promote equality and non-discrimination. 

The petition, signed by 2,500 people, was collected by the Equality Network this summer as part of efforts to highlight LGBTI human rights during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. These efforts included a conference gathering human rights activists from across the Commonwealth resulting in a joint declaration on LGBTI rights. Glasgow Pride also facilitated a Pride House for LGBT athletes and spectators.


Read the petition below, and the response of the Secretary-General here

To the Commonwealth Secretary General

Of the 53 member states of the Commonwealth, 42 continue to criminalise consensual adult same-sex relationships, with maximum penalties in some states of life imprisonment or execution. Across the Commonwealth, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people are denied equal access to rights, education, employment, housing and

We call on Commonwealth member states to:

1. Immediately stop applying laws that criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex (LGBTI) people and limit their access to human rights.

2. Work with local LGBTI and human rights groups to better understand the struggles they face in accessing their human rights.

We also call on the Commonwealth Secretariat to:

1. Work with member states to uphold the Commonwealth Charter in full, by developing a shared understanding of the required non-discrimination grounds as including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

2. Work with member states to meaningfully include LGBTI rights into national human rights frameworks.

3. Work with LGBTI groups across the Commonwealth to better understand the struggles they face in accessing their human rights.