LGBT+ activists call for more inclusive Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth still discriminates against LGBT+ athletes

The Commonwealth Games are supposed to be open to all, but it would be virtually impossible for a known LGBT+ athlete to be selected for a national team in TWO-THIRDS of Commonwealth countries. 

To protest against this homophobic system, Olympic and Commonwealth gold medallist Tom Daley has joined forces with the Peter Tatchell Foundation to condemn the persecution of LGBT+ people in almost two-thirds of Commonwealth countries. 

Daley, Tatchell and other LGBT+ activists called on countries to respect the Commonwealth Charter, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination for ALL citizens. LGBT+ people from across the Commonwealth demonstrated on 28 July at Aston Hall in Birmingham B6JD as the baton arrived for the start of the Commonwealth Games. They also demonstrated again on the same day at the main entrance to the Alexander Stadium.

Ban discrimination

The aim was to call on the Commonwealth to decriminalise same-sex relationships, ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, enforce laws against threats and violence to protect LGBT+ people from hate crime, and consult and engage with LGBT+ organisations. 

Tom Daley said: “Acutally, thirty-five of the 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relationships. That’s half the countries in the world that ban homosexuality. In seven Commonwealth countries, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment under laws imposed by Britain in the 19th century when it was the colonial power.

“Every person should be free to live their authentic life, regardless of where they were born or who they are. We must all keep working until everyone is free and equal.”

Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:

“Commonwealth countries account for over half of the 68 nations worldwide where same-sex relationships are illegal. Anti-LGBT+ discrimination and hate crimes are widespread and unchecked in most Commonwealth countries. 

“I have been trying for 30 years to get the Commonwealth Leaders’ Summit to discuss the criminalisation of LGBT people by over 62% of member states. They refuse, and most also reject dialogue with their local LGBT+ communities.” 

Tatchell continued: “The Commonwealth is a homophobic institution, a bastion of anti-LGBT+ laws, discrimination and hate crime. LGBT+ issues have never been addressed, not even once, by Commonwealth leaders at their summits over the past three decades. 

“The Commonwealth Secretariat is complicit in homophobia. It has sold out the Commonwealth’s LGBT+ communities. The Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland, has shown no leadership, failing to speak out publicly against the continued intensification of LGBT persecution in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda. In northern Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death, and three alleged homosexuals were recently sentenced to death by stoning after an unfair trial.”

He concluded: “Millions of LGBT+ people living in Commonwealth countries have no legal protection against discrimination in employment, housing, education, health care and the provision of goods and services. This makes a mockery of Commonwealth values and the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter. 

“Criminalising LGBT+ people goes against the Commonwealth Charter, which these countries have signed up to and promised to uphold. This Charter guarantees equal rights and non-discrimination to all Commonwealth citizens.”

In this article, you learned that:

  • Although the Commonwealth Games are open to all, it would be virtually impossible for a known LGBT+ athlete to be selected for a national team in TWO-THIRDS of the Commonwealth nations.
  • 35 of the 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex people.
  • Seven nations provide for life imprisonment.

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