London: Activists stage protest outside Commonwealth HQ against ‘Commonwealth homophobia’

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Campaigners have staged a protest outside the Commonwealth’s Secretariat building in central London against the presence of anti-gay laws in 80% of Commonwealth countries.

Wednesday’s protest was jointly sponsored by the Kaleidoscope Trust, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group.

Commonwealth leaders from around the world meet in Sri Lanka on Friday.

In a report published on Monday by the Kaleidoscope Trust, the charity accused Commonwealth leaders of turning a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses of LGBT citizens.

Shadow Foreign Secretary criticised Sri Lanka’s record on LGBT rights, with the report documenting widespread alleged human rights violations of the country’s LGBT community.

Downing Street said David Cameron and William Hague will be raising the issue with their Sri Lankan counterparts.

Same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in 41 out of 53 Commonwealth states.

Assistant Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, Alistair Stewart, said: “The Commonwealth has consistently refused to address the issue of human rights for LGBT people and the forthcoming Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka will be no different. More than half of all the countries in the world that still make being gay a crime are in the Commonwealth. This is a stain on an organisation supposedly committed to equal rights for all.”

Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group, added:  “Although the Secretary General of the Commonwealth continues to condemn homophobia, we are calling for action. Countries that persecute LGBT people – such as Uganda, Cameroon and Nigeria – should be suspended from the Commonwealth.

“Homophobia and transphobia are violations of human rights and should be raised at the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka by the Secretary General, Prime Minister David Cameron and other national leaders. No future Commonwealth meeting should be held in a country that persecutes LGBT people or violates other human rights.”