Via the Guardian, here a bit of “news” that’s well-known to most of us.
Homosexuality is illegal in 41 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries, a report released on Monday reveals. Despite this, the forthcoming Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) in Sri Lanka has elected not to discuss the issue of anti-gay discrimination. Commissioned by the Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation and compiled by LGBT activists throughout the Commonwealth, the report calls for Commonwealth countries to repeal anti-gay legislation, with an immediate moratorium on enforcement.
“If you look at the world as a whole, around about 40% of nations have state-sponsored homophobia,” said Kaleidoscope’s spokesman, Douglas Pretsell. “Half of those – about 54% – are in the Commonwealth. If you look at the rest of the world not inside the Commonwealth, it’s only 24.5% – so the Commonwealth has a big problem. “These are laws that make it illegal to be gay.”
Pretsell said the anti-gay laws were hangover from British colonial rule. It exported laws – including those outlawing sodomy – to Commonwealth countries, where they persist backed by the prevalence of strong religious views among the populations. “It’s worth noting that in the vast majority of these countries, the laws sit there and they’re completely unused, so no one is ever prosecuted. But [the laws’ existence are] used as a way to intimidate and harass.”
Britain’s Labour Party has encouraged Prime Minister David Cameron to bring up the issue at the Commonwealth summit.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The prime minister and foreign secretary will make clear their concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka when they visit Colombo this week.”The Commonwealth Charter, agreed by all Commonwealth members, explicitly states that we are opposed to all forms of discrimination and it is important that all members live up these values. That is the message that we will be taking to the summit.”