Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
While our colleagues over at So So Gay Sport marvel at some of the hottest guys of the Commonwealth Games across a series of articles, many people are finding it harder to ignore the egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by some of their home countries.
Homosexuality is illegal in 41 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries; in 22 of those countries, you could be imprisoned for being gay, while in two, you could be put to death. Only a week ago, the House of Commons speaker John Bercow said that ‘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.’
The Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK-based charity which works to uphold the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people internationally, released a report last year, calling on Commonwealth countries to repeal anti-gay legislation.
‘If you look at the world as a whole,’ says Kaleidoscope’s spokesman Douglas Pretsell, ‘around 40 per cent of nations have state-sponsored homophobia. Half of those – about 54 per cent – are in the Commonwealth. Across the rest of the world, it’s only 24.5 per cent – so the Commonwealth has a big problem.
‘These are laws that make it illegal to be gay.’
So So Gay has regularly reported on Uganda’s human rights abuses, including the so-called ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill, with other countries across Africa regularly appearing on our pages. But less has been said about other members of the Commonwealth – even in Australia, homosexuality was only fully decriminalised in 1997, when law reform advocates took their case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, forcing the state of Tasmania to decriminalise sex between consenting adult men in private.
While some attitudes in some countries, including Uganda, seem to be hardening, the situation in others, such as Seychelles – home to many a honeymoon – is easing. The 2013 US Human Rights Country report suggests that the law on ‘unnatural offences against the order of nature’ is not enforced, and that the second Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Michel, said in October 2011 that ‘the change of relevant laws would come pretty soon, as the government and civil society want so.’ Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and HIV status has been illegal since 1995.
Jonathan Cooper, Chief Executive of the Human Dignity Trust, a London-based organisation of international lawyers that supports court cases against laws criminalising gay people, told So So Gay: ‘Laws that criminalise homosexuality are malignant and oppressive, and have no place in the modern Commonwealth. At best, anti-gay laws put a cloud of shame and degradation on the very identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and at worst they legitimise violence and state-sponsored persecution of them.’
Because it would be too depressing to tell you about all 42 countries where you could get into trouble for being gay, The Human Dignity Trust has provided us with information so we can being you some of the worst Commonwealth countries, with help from a list according by the Spartacus gay travel guide.
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