A HUMAN rights organisation is to stage a protest outside Downing Street tomorrow over “homophobia in the Commonwealth” ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Games.
The Peter Tatchell Foundation will call on Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out against discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual and intersex (LGBTI) people.
The group has also urged organisers of the Glasgow sporting spectacle to make a statement of equality and inclusivity, as well as extending a “specific welcome and support” for LGBTI athletes, officials and spectators due to arrive in Scotland’s biggest city.
The foundation is an avowed critic of member nations of the Commonwealth who regard homosexuality as a criminal activity. It points out that homosexuality carries penalities of up to life imprisonment in at least seven countries, and the death penalty in parts of northern Nigeria and rural Pakistan, while Brunei plans to introduce death by stoning. In total 42 of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality.
As part of its protest, the foundation is also calling on LGBTI athletes to come out if it is safe for them do so, and asking the UK government to grant asylum to LGBTI athletes and officials who have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their home countries.
Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights advocacy organisation, said: “We are appealing to Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out against homophobia and transphobia in the Commonwealth in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, which start in Glasgow on 23 July.
“We also want him to express his public support for Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution, which prohibits any form of discrimination – including discrimination in athlete selection for the national teams.”
“We want the Prime Minister to give a lead and set a positive tone by publicly declaring that anti-LGBT persecution is a violation of the Commonwealth Charter and that LGBTI athletes will be welcome in Glasgow.
“He should make clear that the UK government is willing to give asylum to LGBTI athletes who are at risk of victimisation in their county of origin.”
The protest rally, scheduled to take place tomorrow evening, is being organised by the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, with the support of the Tatchell Foundation and Rainbows Across Borders.
Edwin Sesange, co-ordinator of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, said: “The Commonwealth Games is a major international sporting event and a great opportunity for the Prime Minister speak out against anti-LGBTI persecution by 80 per cent of Commonwealth member states.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow 2014 said: “Glasgow 2014 is a diverse and inclusive organisation and aims to engage individuals from all backgrounds, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.”