GAY RIGHTS campaigners celebrated their inclusion for the first time yesterday in the Commonwealth People’s Forum in Malta.
British Queen Elizabeth II opened the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the Mediterranean island nation yesterday, praising the colonial hangover.
Baroness Patricia Scotland was elected the new Commonwealth secretary-general, to take office next April.
The Commonwealth Equality Network welcomed the invitation to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) groups to the meeting of civil society organisations.
Two sessions were held as part of the official forum agenda which explored the impact of discrimination and criminalisation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and also reflect growing progress in Commonwealth countries for LGBTI rights.
The dialogue also included activists from some of the 40 of the 53 Commonwealth countries where same-sex relationships are still illegal, in some cases carrying the death penalty.
A new report released this week by the Kaleidoscope Trust claims that 90 per cent of Commonwealth citizens live in a jurisdiction that criminalises LGBTI people.
Maltese Minister for Civil Liberties Dr Helena Dalli said: “We need to ensure that all political leaders remember the voices of LGBTI people for recognition and respect during this Forum and act on them in concrete ways.
Commonwealth Equality Network Belizean delegate Caleb Orozco said: “The Commonwealth can build on the experience of the Organisation of American States and take a stand against violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”