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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle take a stand for LGBT equality in the Commonwealth

The royal couple met with a leading LGBT rights group on Wednesday (April 18).

By Will Stroude

With exactly one month to go until their wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have reaffirmed their commitment to championing LGBT+ equality around the world.

The royal couple, who are set to wed at Windsor Castle on May 19, met with activists from a leading Commonwealth LGBT rights group during a youth forum to mark the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this week.

Harry and Meghan used their first official public appearance last November to meet people living with HIV on World AIDS Day, and the pair put LGBT issues at the forefront of their public agenda once again on Wednesday (April 18) as they met representatives from the Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN).

The organisation, which was established in 2013, works to champion LGBT equality around the Commonwealth, where 36 of 53 member states still criminalise homosexuality. 

Activist Jacob Thomas, who won a Queen’s Young Leaders award for helping to reduce LGBT+ suicide rates in Australia, said that Meghan expressed clear support for LGBT+ equality during the encounter.

According to People, Thomas told reporters: “Miss Markle said, and these were her exact words, ‘This is a basic human rights issue, not one about sexuality’.”

He continued: “Prince Harry said that what was so amazing was that 10 or so years ago, we wouldn’t have been having this conversation and how incredible it was that we now were.”

Harry and Meghan’s comments come at the younger generation of British royals continue to use their position to reach out to the LGBT community.

In 2016, Prince William met with eight young LGBT+ people and appeared on the cover of Attitude as he spoke out against bullying as part of his mental health campaign Heads Together.

Prince Harry later made headlines after appearing at the Attitude Awards in October 2017, where he accepted a Legacy Award on behalf of his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was honoured for her gorundbreaking AIDS activisms during the ’80s and ’90s.

In years past, the British monarchy faced criticism for failing to champion LGBT+ charities despite their overwhelming amount of philanthropic work. 

Queen Elizabeth made her first public show of support for an LGBT+ organisation in 2014, when she sent a message congratulating LGBT+ Switchboard on its 40th anniversary.

The newfound willingness of the Royal Family to embrace LGBT+ causes demonstrates something that members of the gay community have repeatedly tried to make clear: that LGBT+ acceptance is not a ‘political’ issue, but one of basic human rights.