Despite the Commonwealth's formal commitment to democracy, human rights, equality and individual freedom, human rights abuses are widespread throughout most member states. These abuses variously include state executions, censorship, torture, detention without trial and restrictions on free speech and the right to protest. There is also frequent state-sanctioned discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality and religion or belief.
More than 40 of the 54 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relations, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment. These 40-plus member states account for over half the countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality.
In May 2011, Peter Tatchell and the PTF succeeded in securing the first ever public commitment to LGBT rights by a Commonwealth Secretary General. Subsequent lobbying led to this commitment being reiterated at the Commonwealth Law Minister's Meeting in July, and again at the Commonwealth People's Forum in October.
We are now pushing to get LGBT rights formally adopted by the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
If you want to help us end the criminalisation of homosexuality by Commonwealth member states, please email the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank him for speaking out against homophobia. Ask him to press the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the CHOGM task force to press all member states to decriminalise same-sex relations and to protect LGBT people against discrimination and hate crimes.