BY NOREEN FAGAN – Peter
Tatchell, a gay activist in the
UK, is lobbying hard to get the secretary general of the Commonwealth of
Nations, Kamalesh Sharma, to discuss lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights at
the upcoming Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Perth, Australia, from
Oct 28 to 30.
In a blog on Madikazemi Tatchell wrote, “the Commonwealth heads of government
have always refused to address the widespread violation of LGBT human rights.
We want this to be the breakthrough summit.”
I am not sure that a letter-writing campaign will
work, but here’s hoping that Sharma will at least be aware of the effort.
In May 2011 Sharma wrote, “I have consistently made it clear
publicly that we [the Commonwealth] deplore hate crimes of any nature, and the
vilification and targeting of gay and lesbian people runs counter to the
fundamental values of the Commonwealth, which include non-discrimination on any
Sharma obviously has his head screwed on the right way,
but can he really pull off slipping a queer agenda into the meeting? I doubt
it. If the history of past meetings is anything to go by, the bigwigs are
going to want to discuss other things.
Past topics have included Zimbabwean independence, sanctions against South Africa and ending apartheid, nuclear
testing in the Pacific, and Zimbabwe’s suspension and then departure from
Commonwealth membership in 2003.
It would be great if the 2011 agenda included gay rights, but, as Tatchell points out in his blog, “the
Commonwealth is an association of 54 nations, mostly former British colonies
and mostly in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. More than 40 of its member states
still criminalize homosexuality, with penalties including flogging and life