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Vague Commonwealth Charter disappoints

Posted in: International News
By GayNZ.com Daily News staff - 12th March 2013

Queen_charter.jpg
Criticism is being heaped on the lack of specific reference to gay and lesbian rights in a Commonwealth Charter which some see as an “historic” moment, and others see as decidedly weak.

Signed by the Queen, the Charter reads: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”

The “other grounds” clause in the charter is intended to refer to sexuality, however specific references to gay and lesbian people were reportedly omitted due to Commonwealth countries with anti-gay laws.

Ben Summerskill of Stonewall has told Pink News the Queen had taken “an historic step forward” on gay rights, and said “The Palace has finally caught up with public opinion.”

However Guardian columnist Patrick Strudwick is underwhelmed. He writes:

“Fighting for gay rights? The Queen won't even mention them. She dare not speak our name – that is, if you believe she is even referring to gay people; if you buy the newspaper's inference that ‘other grounds’ denotes an ‘implicit support of gay rights’.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson has also now stated:

“In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth.” But he added: “The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is on all matters of this sort.”

According to Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, 41 of the 54 Commonwealth states still criminalise homosexuality.

He told Sky News that while the charter could be considered a step forward it "does not include an explicit commitment to gay equality ... this was vetoed by the homophobic majority of member states."


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