Commons Speaker John Bercow: The Commonwealth must do more to support LGBT rights

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Ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow tomorrow, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it is sad that some athletes will not be able to compete because they are LGBT.

The Speaker also questioned why more was not being done to tackle discrimination across the Commonwealth.

Currently, 42 out of 54 Commonwealth nations punish homosexuality with imprisonment, and some still have the death penalty.

Mr Bercow welcomed competitors from across the Commonwealth and wished the organisers a successful Games.

In a statement released today, he said: “I would like to offer the warmest welcome to the athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It is a fantastic sporting occasion, which I hope will be well supported, and it is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the spirit of the Commonwealth.”

Continuing, he commented on the state of LGBT rights in the Commonwealth.

He said: “Sadly, there might be world-class athletes who will not be able to compete in the Games, as they will have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality; shamefully, it is estimated that 4 out of every 5 countries in the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality. Surely, it is time for the Commonwealth to do more to support lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual people, to ensure they are not discriminated against, no matter where they live?”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called on David Cameron to speak out about homophobia in the Commonwealth, ahead of the Glasgow Games.

He previously published an open letter to organisers of the Games calling for all participating countries to sign a non-discrimination pledge.