William Hague: The situation for LGBT people ‘is worsening’ in many countries

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In his first major speech on LGBT rights, the former Foreign Secretary William Hague, has warned that the situation for gay people abroad “is worsening” in many countries.

Speaking at the annual PinkNews Awards in Speaker’s House, Mr Hague, the First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons spoke of his time in the Foreign Office, and the importance of the “abolition of draconian laws that restrict the lives of LGBT people in other countries”.

He said such laws “subject innocent people to imprisonment, violence and stigmatisation.”

“While we’re making progress in Britain and elsewhere because the situation in other countries is not only difficult it is worsening as you know. It is completely incompatible with international human rights laws to make illegal consenting same-sex relations and to deny rights to people on the basis of their sexuality.

“It’s a very important part of this work to change attitudes. The United Kingdom does great work to promote that internationally as I saw in the four years that I was Foreign Secretary, until a few months ago, and it is work that I intensified as Foreign Secretary.”

Currently, 77 countries, and 80 jurisdictions criminalise homosexuality. Five still have the death penalty for those convicted under such laws.

Mr Hague told the audience: “So the defence on LGBT rights must be part of our foreign policy and at the core of our work on human rights. And our work includes lobbying other countries about individuals laws and cases when we travel overseas as Ministers such as in the situation in Uganda which was a focus during my time in FCO.”

Continuing, he said: “One of my last acts as FCO was to write to the Commonwealth Secretary General urging him to use his position to urge member states to live up to their responsibilities to promote the rights of LGBT citizens, it is shocking that homosexuality is illegal in so many Commonwealth member states and it must be part of our relations with them to persuade them to do better.”

Joking that he got into “a lot of trouble” in 1997 when he said in an Independent on Sunday interview that he would not oppose same-sex marriage, he continued: “I want to congratulate PinkNews and your supporters across the country, and all of your commitment on these issues.”

After his speech, Mr Hague presented the PinkNews Award for Peer of the Year to Lord Fowler, who works tirelessly against HIV and AIDS in the developing world.

A video of Mr Hague’s full speech is available to view below

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