Building Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality in the Commonwealth

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2008 National LGBT Conference
23 July 2008

Conference welcomes:

1The UK Government’s stated commitment to working for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality;

2The development and publication this year by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of a strategy and toolkit for promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT people;

3Increasing recognition of the Yogyarkarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Conference notes:

A.That 86 of the 192 (45%) member states of the United Nations still criminalise consensual same sex acts between adults;

B.That 41 of these, nearly 50%, are members of the Commonwealth;

C.That almost 77% of the countries (41 out of 53) within the Commonwealth ‘family’ retain such laws, which are largely a legacy of British colonialism;

D.The Commonwealth has extensive ongoing work programmes relating to the promotion of human rights and combating HIV/AIDS;

E.The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) occurs every two years;

F.Before the last CHOGM in Uganda in 2007, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) wrote to the Commonwealth Secretariat requesting it “appeal to all Commonwealth nations that maintain criminal penalties to repeal such laws” (referring to the Singapore Declaration and the Harare Declaration made at the 1971 and 1991 CHOGMs respectively);

G.The next CHOGM is in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009.

Conference believes that there is potential for the UK Government to take particular steps within the framework of Commonwealth institutions to promote human rights, non-discrimination and repeal of laws criminalizing consensual sexual activity.

Conference instructs the National Committee to work with the National Executive Council International Committee, Trades Union Congress, International Lesbian and Gay Association and other stakeholders involved in the FCO strategy, to explore the potential of progressing this agenda in the lead up to the 2009 meeting.