African LGBT activists will march alongside the Peter Tatchell Foundation near the head of the annual Pride London parade this Saturday, 28 June, to protest against the persecution of LGBT people in 80 per cent of the 53 Commonwealth member states – many of them African nations.
“We are calling on 42 Commonwealth countries to repeal their criminalization of same-sex relationships and to protect their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens against discrimination and hate crime – in accordance with the principles of the Commonwealth Charter,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organization, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“We are urging the organizers of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July to require every competing nation to sign a pledge to not discriminate in the selection of athletes for their national team. Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution prohibits all discrimination. But it is widely believed that most Commonwealth nations would refuse to select a LGBT athlete,” he said.
Tatchell has written to the Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014, David Grevemberg, asking him to ensure that all countries participating in the Commonwealth Games sign a non-discrimination pledge.
Tatchell helped organize Britain’s first Gay Pride march, which took place in London in 1972. He has attended every Pride London parade since then.
“Forty-two of the 53 Commonwealth member states criminalize homosexuality, with seven of them stipulating life imprisonment and two of them – Pakistan and Nigeria – having the death penalty under Sharia law in some regions,” noted Tatchell.
Marching in a joint contingent with the Peter Tatchell Foundation on Saturday will be African activists from Uganda, Nigeria and other African nations – including the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group and Nigerian LGBTIs in the Diaspora Against Anti-Same-Sex Laws.
On Saturday, we are meeting at 12.30pm at the corner of Baker Street and Wigmore Street W1 (opposite Portman Square).
The Pride London parade leaves at 1pm sharp.
“It is unfortunate that the Commonwealth has failed to implement its own charter on human rights, which the Secretary General has said includes rejection of discrimination against gay people and any other form of discrimination,” said Edwin Sesange, Coordinator of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group. “The Commonwealth should show leadership by directly challenging homophobia and transphobia in its member states, in the same way that it eventually opposed apartheid in South Africa. The Commonwealth Secretariat says it opposes anti-gay persecution but it takes little action.”
“It is saddening that 80% of Commonwealth countries discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people,” said Yemisi Ilesanmi, Coordinator of Nigerian LGBTIs in the Diaspora Against Anti-Same-Sex Laws. “In this age of democracy, every progressive nation should endeavor to protect the human rights of every citizen. No one is less of a human being because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Acknowledging and protecting LGBTI rights as human rights is a step forward for humanity. It is shameful that the Commonwealth of nations has not taken this important step. We continue to call on the Commonwealth to stand up for the rights of its LGBTI citizens. Every human deserves human rights. LGBTI rights are human rights.”