The criminalization of homosexuality degrades and persecutes the LGBTI community around the world.
Most laws throughout the globe which make same-sex intimacy illegal have their roots in British colonial rule.
They are a shameful legacy of colonization.
The UK is in a prime position to help end this persecution. It has great influence on the international stage.
But if the government is going to get anywhere, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) needs to make ending LGBTI persecution a top priority and provide the resources to do it.
Meanwhile the refugee system in the UK needs to become more sensitive to LGBT asylum claims to save the lives of those who have no choice but to flee.
David Cameron has proven himself to be a doughty fighter for LGBTI rights. He previously stated that a Conservative government would make upholding the basic human rights of LGBTI people a diplomatic priority.
We welcome that commitment and urge his government to implement these 10 recommendations so the UK plays its part in ending this persecution.
1 Make ending persecution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity a stated policy of the FCO’s human rights and democracy program.
2 Include LGBT rights in the other areas the FCO works on – 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 on ending the persecution of LGBTI people. The politicians will help formulate policy and hold the government to account.
4 Get government departments to communicate more so there are joined-up and effective approaches to tackling global LGBTI persecution.
5 Ensure the Home Office really does grant asylum to genuine LGBTI refugees. The asylum process should be fairer and less traumatic for those going through it.
6 Continue to take a leading role within intergovernmental organizations so the UK is joined up with foreign partners to share in this effort.
7 Keep working with LGBTI organizations in the UK and around the world where LGBTI people are most at threat. Use our embassies to spearhead this.
8 Consider appointing a minister, unit or special envoy for the LGBTI human rights.
9 Establish a way for ministers to refuse visas or impose restrictions on people who actively persecute LGBTI people or promote anti-gay and anti-trans laws.
10 Make sure the UK retains a robust human rights system at home.
Jonathan Cooper is a lawyer and chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust, a legal charity, which works to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide.