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Human rights protest greets Commonwealth leaders

Peter_Tatchell

Respected campaigner Peter Tatchell attended the protest

Human rights activists gathered outside Westminster Abbey this week to demand action in Commonwealth countries.

The protest took place as high commissioners met to mark Commonwealth Day. The demonstration focussed on the persecution and criminalisation of homosexuality.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and gay people from across the Commonwealth, some of who had fled persecution, attended the vigil.

Mr Tatchell said: “In 60 years of Commonwealth summits, LGBT+ issues have never been discussed by leaders, not even once.”

He said that he and his fellow activists were committed to ensuring that LGBT+ rights become the dominant issue of the summit, even if the leaders seem “determined to keep it off the agenda.”

Mr Tatchell asked: “Surely in 2018, as London plays host to the summit, we can at least have a discussion with the Commonwealth heads of government?”

“The Commonwealth is a homophobic institution. It’s a bastion of anti-LGBT prejudice,” Mr Tatchell insisted.

“This is a complete violation of the Commonwealth charter, which pledges these countries will uphold human rights for all their Commonwealth citizens.”

“Nearly all the anti-gay laws that exist in Commonwealth countries were originally imposed by Britain during the colonial era.

“It’s now time those independent nations scrap those colonial laws.”

Patrick Harrington, director of the Third Way think-tank backed Mr Tatchell’s campaign. He said: “Of the 53 Commonwealth countries, 37 criminalize homosexuality. Gay people face life imprisonment in nine of the countries, and the death penalty in two. That is simply unacceptable and must end. Mr Tatchell is a veteran human rights campaigner who commands enormous respect across the political spectrum. He is right to raise these issues and should be listened to.”

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