UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May will bring up LGBTI rights at the Commonwealth leader summit this week.
The Conservative leader has vowed to ensure that rights for gender and sexual minorities are heard during the important meeting of leaders.
However activists have said she is not doing enough, and should apologize for colonial-era laws that ban homosexuality.
The debate comes as over 100,000 people signed a petition calling for decriminalization in 36 member states that have sodomy laws.
Homophobic leaders come to London for Commonwealth summit
Many homophobic leaders will be in London this week, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
‘This is an important issue and one many people across our country rightly feel strongly about,’ a Downing Street spokesperson told Gay Star News.
‘As the Prime Minister has said, we have a special responsibility to help change hearts and minds, and we will ensure that these important issues are discussed during the Commonwealth summit week.’
Peter Tatchell, veteran human rights campaigner, was one of the many activists to call on decriminalization in the 36 nations.
He noted the important difference between May bringing up LGBT issues with NGO representatives, likely an audience that believes in all forms of human rights, rather than Commonwealth leaders, some of whom do not.
‘An apology could be a game-changer’
The founder of the Peter Tatchell Foundation told GSN: ‘LGBT issues will be discussed in the NGO side events but not at the main summit of Commonwealth leaders.
‘We’re being met with the same point blank refusal as for the last six decades.
‘Without an apology for Britain’s role in imposing anti-gay laws in Commonwealth countries in the colonial era, any statement that Theresa May makes on LGBT rights is likely to alienate and provoke a negative reaction from homophobic countries.
‘An apology could be a game-changer.
‘It would help reframe the LGBT debate in the Commonwealth by highlighting that the homophobic legislation that still exists in 36 member states is mostly not authentic indigenous national legislation. It was exported by a Briton and imposed on these countries. An apology rather than condemnation is more likely to resolve an engagement with Commonwealth nations.’
London protest on Thursday
Tatchell said May could help encourage change by ‘acknowledging and apologizing for our role in creating these laws’.
Activists for LGBTI rights will rally outside the London HQ of the Commonwealth Secretariat on 19 April at 1pm.
LGBTI representatives from across the Commonwealth will join them to call for the decriminalization of gay sex in 36 member states.
The venue is at Malborough House in London.