The other scandal in Sri Lanka - and 80% of Commonwealth countries: endemic homophobia

Warning that gay people are being demonised across Commonwealth comes ahead of summit this week

Nearly 80 per cent of Commonwealth countries are enforcing anti-gay laws perpetuated by leaders who are “wilfully turning a blind eye to homophobia on a massive scale”, a report warns today.

The study, commissioned by the Kaleidoscope Trust and compiled by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTI) activists across the Commonwealth, calls for Britain’s former colonies to repeal anti-gay legislation, with an immediate moratorium on enforcement. Homosexual acts are a criminal offence in 41 of the 53 members of the Commonwealth, including Jamaica, Pakistan, Singapore and Malaysia.

The warning comes as leaders prepare for the Commonwealth heads of government summit that begins in Sri Lanka on Friday, where the issue of anti-gay discrimination is not on the official agenda.

“Gay rights is one of the last bastions of acceptable human rights abuses, and for Commonwealth leaders not to spend one single second discussing it – even as laws are being passed in places such as Uganda that could see gay people sentenced to death – speaks volumes for priorities,” said Kaleidoscope’s spokesman.

In a foreword to the report, Sir Shridath Ramphal, the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, calls for all countries to “rid ourselves of this archaic legal inheritance”, branding it “a relic of Empire”.

The report highlights a series of cases across Africa, Asia and the Americas in which anti-gay campaigners have been targeted.

One account from Caleb Orozco, executive director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, reads: “As the only claimant in the current constitutional challenge case, I have lost two teeth, had my family property invaded and car damaged by two masked men in the week of the supreme court hearings in May of this year.

“I have had stones thrown at me, experienced simulated gunshots, insults and physical harm on public transportation, and threats.”

Uganda, widely considered one of the worst offenders, is in the process of passing tougher anti-gay legislation, dubbed locally as the “Kill the Gays” bill. According to the report, in February 2012, the Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, was involved in a raid on a workshop for LGBTI women at which he reportedly said: “I have closed this conference because it’s illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home.”

Singapore, the report says, has seen increasing “police surveillance and censorship of LGBTI events and activities [that] are common occurrences”.

“Across the Commonwealth LGBTI people face criminalisation and social discrimination. They face violence. They face eviction from their homes, dismissal from their jobs and estrangement from their families.” Officials insist that although such issues remain off the official agenda, talks are likely to occur behind the scenes. However it adds to concerns over Britain’s decision to attend the summit in Sri Lanka, where same-sex conduct is illegal and LGBTI activists have been threatened with detention.

Today, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, is expected to confirm intentions to boycott the meeting in a row over the country’s human rights record.

In March, the Queen signed a charter that marked the first time Commonwealth countries had adopted a single document promoting gay rights and gender equality. But its usefulness has come into question. “It’s effectively a talking shop designed to smooth the wheels of trade. In terms of resolving human rights issues it has been singularly ineffective,” the spokesman for the Kaleidoscope Trust said.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said last night: “The Commonwealth Charter, agreed by all Commonwealth members, explicitly states that we are opposed to all forms of discrimination, and it is important that all members live up these values. That is the message that we will be taking to the summit.”

‘Children of the devil’: victims’ voices

"I have lost two teeth, had my family property invaded and car damaged by two masked men . . . I have had stones thrown at me, experienced simulated gun shots, insults and physical harm on public transportation, threats that speak to, 'Caleb, you have no right to breathe!'" - Caleb Orozco, Belize

"I have had to battle against a belief that my behaviour situates me outside the ‘normal’. I had been called a “child of the devil”  who was at-risk, vulnerable, stigmatised and lacking...  but we are challenging that prejudiced view with some success." - Joey Joleen Mataele, Tonga

"I openly live as an intersex person. Australia has a reputation for a ‘macho’ culture so I was proud to be elected mayor two years ago. I wish more people knew about intersex so people felt comfortable about being open about the way they were born." - Tony Briffa, Australia

"It’s been over seven months and counting since any of my family laid eyes on me. They refuse to accept me for who I am and worse off, because I advocate for what I believe in. I can never go back home now, as home has now become a memory in my past."  - Charles, Zambia.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Central London - £45,000-£55,000 + bonus

£45000 - £55000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: The focus of this is to deve...

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape