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Activists to U.K.: Fight harder vs. global LGBT persecution

Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of Human-Dignity Trust (Photo courtesy of doughtystreet.co.uk)
Anti-LGBT laws “are a shameful legacy of colonisation,” says Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of Human-Dignity Trust (Photo courtesy of doughtystreet.co.uk)

British activists today urged the new Conservative government of the United Kingdom to step up efforts to end persecution of LGBT people worldwide.

The Human Dignity Trust, which works to challenge anti-gay laws in countries where homosexual activity is illegal, issued 10 recommendations for pursuing the goal of a world without anti-LGBT bias, especially in the many countries where anti-LGBT laws were originally established by the British Empire.

Jonathan Cooper, the trust’s chief executive, said:

“The criminalisation of homosexuality degrades and persecutes the LGBT community. Most laws across the globe criminalising same sex intimacy have their roots in British colonial rule. They are a shameful legacy of colonisation.

“The UK is in a prime position to assist in ending the persecution of the LGBT people. The UK has considerable influence on the international stage. The Foreign Office needs to make ending LGBT persecution a top priority and the Government needs to make sure there are sufficient resources available.

“At the same time the refugee system in the UK needs to become more sensitive to LGBT asylum claims. Whilst criminalisation remains, tormented LGBT people will be left with no choice but continue to claim asylum if they can make it to the UK.

David Cameron (Photo by Remy Steinegger via Wikimedia Commons)
David Cameron (Photo by Remy Steinegger via Wikimedia Commons)

“David Cameron has proven himself to be a doughty fighter for LGBT rights. He previously stated that a Conservative government would make upholding the basic human rights of LGBT people a diplomatic priority. We welcome that commitment and urge his Government to implement these 10 Recommendations in order to assist in ending the persecution of LGBT people across the globe.”

 Among the recommendations is the suggestion that the U.K. consider appointing a Minister, unit or Special Envoy for the human rights of LGBT people, as the United States has done.

The recommendations also included visa restrictions against people who  actively persecute LGBT people in their home countries, or promote anti-LGBT laws there.

 Logo du «Human Dignity Trust»
Human Dignity Trust logo

These are the 10 recommendations that Human Dignity Trust presented:

1)      Make ending persecution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) a stated policy of the FCO’s [Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s] Human Rights and Democracy Programme and add it to the list of target thematic areas.

2)      Mainstream the protection of LGBT rights across other FCO targeted thematic areas, including freedom of expression, abolition of the death penalty, global torture prevention, promoting women’s rights, preventing sexual violence in conflict and business and human rights.

3)      Support and encourage the setting-up of an All-Party Parliamentary Group to end the persecution of LGBT communities around the globe. That [group] would assist in formulating HMG’s [Her Majesty’s Government’s] policies on the human rights of LGBT people and evaluate the government’s ongoing progress.

4)      Facilitate better inter-departmental communication within the UK government to result in more cohesive and effective approaches to tackling global LGBT persecution issues.

5)      Regarding LGBT asylum seekers, further reforms are required to address standards of Home Office decision making to ensure LGBT people who are at real risk of persecution are granted refugee status. The asylum process should be made fairer and less traumatic for those going through it.

6)      Continue to take a leading role within intergovernmental organisations and tackle LGBT persecution worldwide.

7)      Continue to provide support via the UK’s missions abroad to LGBT-rights organisations both in the UK and those operating in countries where LGBT people are most under threat.

8)      Consider appointing a Minister, unit or Special Envoy for the human rights of LGBT people.

9)      Establish a framework where Ministers can consider imposing visa restrictions on those who actively persecute or promote laws and policy designed to persecute LGBT people.

10)   Ensure the UK retains a robust domestic human rights framework.

For more information, visit www.humandignitytrust.org or read the trust’s full submission.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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