Saturday, March 9, 2013

Her Majesty The Queen To Sign Historic Commonwealth Charter Signalling Support For Gay Rights; Gays Not Specifically Mentioned In Order Not To Antagonize Nations That Retain Anti-Homosexual Laws

In the United Kingdom, the Queen will sign a new Commonwealth charter opposing discrimination suffered by women, gay people and ethnic minorities. In a special ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day on Sunday, she will also give a speech endorsing the new agreement which states signatories oppose “all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.” The words “other grounds” are said to refer to sexuality however any specific references to gay people are not included to avoid antagonising Commonwealth countries that retain laws against homosexuals, according to the Mail on Sunday. The charter is the first time the Commonwealth has had a single document setting out the "core values of the organization and the aspiration of its members.” The document includes affirmations on democracy, human rights, international peace and security as well as freedom of expression. It also contains a commitment to "gender equality" and “women’s empowerment.” It will be signed by the Queen in a televised ceremony at Marlborough House on London’s Pall Mall, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat. David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth told the Mail on Sunday: “I fail to see why the Queen needs to make a special statement on this country’s opposition to discrimination against gays and women. It is a statement of the blindingly obvious. My worry is that the politically correct brigade will use it to silence legitimate debate about issues like gay marriage. One can’t help wondering what Prince Philip’s view would be.” Forty-one of the Commonwealth’s 54 nations retain legislation against homosexual acts. In parts of Nigeria and Pakistan those found to have taken part in gay sex can receive the death penalty, in Trinidad and Tobago it can incur 25 years in jail and life imprisonment in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana. Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of the gay and lesbian rights group Stonewall, described the Monarch as a “feminist icon,” and added, “This is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six-percent of her subjects who are gay.”

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