Britain’s Commons Speaker Bercow calls for gay rights push

John Bercow highlights Britain’s opportunity to listen to and support LGBT rights activists worldwide at Kaleidoscope Trust event

Britain’s Commons Speaker Bercow calls for gay rights push
16 May 2012

The Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, John Bercow, has said the Commonwealth should be used to help decriminalize homosexuality in countries around the world.

Bercow, was speaking at an event run by new global LGBT rights organization Kaleidoscospe today (16 May) ahead of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) tomorrow.

Among those in the audience at the Commonwealth Club in central London were Britain’s equality minister, Lynne Featherstone MP, as well as other parliamentarians.

While Bercow, as the chair of parliamentary debates, is not allowed to comment on British domestic affairs, he said he was pleased to be able to use his role as president of Kaleidoscope to keep up his established advocacy on gay and trans issues.

And he called on Britain to show leadership on LGBT issues this year while the Olympics and World Pride were putting the world’s eyes on the country.

In particularly he singled out the Commonwealth, headed by Britain’s Queen, as an opportunity to make a difference.

At the moment, there are 41 Commonwealth countries in the list of 78 nations which criminalize same-sex activity, with punishment in a few ranging up to the death penalty.

Speaking of these countries, Bercow said: ‘This is a clear violation of the rights of their citizens.

‘The framework of engagement amongst Commonwealth nations provides us with a great opportunity to work with those 41 countries with such unjust legislative prohibitions on homosexuality.

‘The Commonwealth is often called a family, and we all know that families have different views, and sometimes fall out. But the strength of families is that there is a strong base upon which to settle our differences – let’s use it.’

While highlighting positive change in countries as far apart as Jamaica and Australia, Bercow also used his speech to speak about anti-gay moves in Russia, Nigeria, Hungary, Malaysia and elsewhere.

Bercow said: ‘Prejudice, intolerance and persecution on the basis of sexuality are a denial of humanity. Such treatment is sentencing people to a life of fear, self-doubt, and self-loathing. It is the theft of one of our most fundamental instincts – to love, and to be love.

‘This issue is so much more than politics or diplomacy. It is about the subjugation of a fellow human being’s freedom. It is painful. It is demeaning. It is dehumanizing.’

The event also promoted the work of Kaleidoscope’s new ‘Leadership Forum’. This aims to support LGBT rights leaders around the world and give them resources to help them in their work as well as a chance to share their own expertise.

But Bercow emphasized that there is not one ‘blueprint’ for change and said Kaleidoscope’s role is to ‘ask what it can do to help and shape its agenda accordingly’.

The evening was sponsored by professional services firm Ernst & Young. You can find out how to support Kaleidoscope Trust by visiting its website.



No thumbnail available

One Direction’s Liam ‘plays gay' in new music video

The 19-year-old pop star dresses up as a camp choreographer in new music video 'Best Song Ever'
No thumbnail available

Man suffers near fatal injuries after attack in Brighton gay village

Police are urgently appealing for help after a man in his 30s was attacked in the early hours of this morning
No thumbnail available

Kathy Griffin shares how she will be different from Joan Rivers on Fashion Police

'I’m more improvisational and I don’t know what I’m going to say and neither does anyone else on the panel'
No thumbnail available

Atlanta police tell gay teens 'It Gets Better'

Atlanta Police Department make It Gets Better video, three years after being accused of harrassment over raiding a gay bar
No thumbnail available

Gay teen planning to lose virginity ‘in the name of art’ chooses London venue

Clayton Pettet, 19, is being accused of 'cheapening sexual relationships' for his 'once-in-a-lifetime performance'
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Target features gay dads in TV commercial

The US retailer appears to be working harder to assert its diversity and LGBTI-friendly credentials
No thumbnail available

A pink closet will tour Manchester to mark coming out day

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation are asking people to join them and mark International Coming Out Day
No thumbnail available

Chris Crespo: ‘What if you weren’t afraid?’

An Inclusiveness Director for EY, Chris Crespo has come to realize the importance of confronting one’s fears
No thumbnail available

Boy, 18, who marched to say ‘Gay Hate Kills’, dies after skinhead attack

Clement Méric was attacked by a group of skinheads wearing knuckle-dusters outside a shop in Paris