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Tom Daley and Peter Tatchell call out Commonwealth countries criminalising homosexuality ahead of summit

Commonwealth leaders are currently meeting in Rwanda for a biennial summit.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: BBC and The Peter Tatchell Foundation

Tom Daley has joined up with the LGBTQ and human rights activist, Peter Tatchell, to call out the 35 countries in the Commonwealth that still criminalise homosexuality.

It comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) summit which is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda this weekend. 

“Shockingly, half the countries in the world that criminalise homosexuality are in the Commonwealth, which is why I support efforts by the Peter Tatchell Foundation and others to correct this terrible injustice. It is time that the criminalisation of LGBT+ people is ended,” the Team GB gold medallist says.

He adds, “I believe the Commonwealth should be a forum that protects the rights of all its citizens. It should not support governments that make criminals out of millions of LGBT+ people.”

The Peter Tatchell Foundation states that of the 54 member countries in the Commonwealth, 35 still criminalise homosexuality (70 percent) and most of these are former British colonies. 

Seven have life imprisonment and northern Nigeria still uses the death penalty, which the Foundations says is in defiance of the Commonwealth Charter.

Tatchell who calls the Commonwealth as a “homophobic institution” and an “abject failure” decries the lack of time given to LGBTQ issues at any previous summit.

He says, “Surely, in 2022, Commonwealth heads of government should address the state-sanctioned persecution of millions of LGBT+ Commonwealth citizens.”

LGBT+ campaigners are urging the Commonwealth to: 

· Decriminalise same-sex relations.

· Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

· Enforce laws against threats and violence, to protect LGBT+ people from hate crime.

· Consult and dialogue with LGBT+ organisations.

Past CHOGM summits have seen LGBTQ roundtables included, such as in 2018.

Speaking at the 2021 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards as he collected the sport award announced that he was making it his mission to try and ensure that countries which criminalise homosexuality and the LGBTQ community can’t compete at the Olympics. 

Attitude has approached the Commonwealth for comment.

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.