David Cameron backs new international gay rights charity

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A new UK-based charity will be launched to support LGBT people suffering persecution around the world.

The project has been backed by political leaders and prime minister David Cameron, who said Britain should be a “global beacon for reform” on the issue of LGBT rights.

The Kaleidoscope Diversity Trust says it will work with local gay rights campaigners and lobby for equal rights in areas such as Africa and the Middle East.

Its workers will focus on crises involving individuals and emerging gay rights movements.

Stars including Elton John and George Michael have been invited to attend the official launch in the House of Commons tomorrow.

Mr Cameron said: “Our country has made real progress on LGB and T equality and, without forgetting how far we’ve still got to go domestically, it is right that we should now increasingly turn our attention towards bringing about change abroad.

“In some countries, it’s simply appalling how people can be treated – how their rights are trampled on and the prejudices, and even violence, they suffer. So I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform. That’s why I am delighted to send my best wishes to Kaleidoscope, and wish them well in their work ”

The director of Kaleidoscope is Lance Price, a former special advisor to Tony Blair. It will be launched tomorrow at a reception held by its honorary president, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

The charity says: “In many countries the media present a very distorted image of what it means to be gay or lesbian. Those who promote discrimination and hatred find it much easier to get their message across than those who argue for understanding and mutual respect. Kaleidoscope works to ensure that the case against homophobia is heard wherever possible.

“Fighting prejudice and ignorance requires well-presented arguments based on reliable evidence. We commission and promoteresearch to counter hatred of homosexuals whether for cultural, religious or any other reason.”

LGBT asylum campaigner Paul Canning, who has been advising the new charity, welcomed the launch but criticised the Home Office for its treatment of LGBT asylum seekers.

He said: “Whilst government support for LGBT in the ‘global south’ is welcome, we still have the Home Office, through its treatment of LGBT asylum seekers, saying that the same countries the Foreign Office is criticising for repressing gay people are safe.

“The UK Border Agency’s Operational Guidance Note for Uganda, for example, ignores repression there or there’s Home Office lawyers in individual cases cherry picking evidence to make out these countries are safe.”

He added: “Gay Ugandan Robert Segwanyi fled jail and torture for what he hoped would be sanctuary here. Despite everyone describing him as ‘obviously gay’, the Home Office still wants to return him to what would be a likely death: it has taken a big campaign to – we hope – stop them. There are many cases just like Robert’s.”