The speaker of the House of Commons has welcomed the Commonwealth Games to Great Britain – with a sad comment on the state of human rights across many of the countries taking part.

The Rt Hon John Bercow MP said: ‘Sadly, there might be world-class athletes who will not be able to compete in the Games, as they will have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality; shamefully, it is estimated that 4 out of every 5 countries in the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality. Surely, it is time for the Commonwealth to do more to support lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual people, to ensure they are not discriminated against, no matter where they live?’

42 out of 54 countries of the Commonwealth criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex using laws that were mostly enacted during British colonial rule. While the United Kingdom has made gay sex legal, most other countries quote Biblical references as justification for keeping ‘acts against the order of nature’ illegal.

Speaking to Time Magazine in September 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron said, ‘It’s simply appalling how people can be treated — how their rights are trampled on and the prejudices and even the violence they suffer. I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform.’