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Commons Speaker John Bercow demands C’wealth scraps anti-gay laws

Commons Speaker John Bercow demands C’wealth scraps anti-gay laws

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has demanded the Commonwealth scraps its anti-gay laws.

The politician said it was ‘shameful’ world-class athletes would not be able to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because of homophobic legislation.

Of the 53 Commonwealth states, 42 have laws that criminalize LGBTI people.

‘Sadly, there might be world-class athletes who will not be able to compete in the Games, as they will have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality,’ Bercow said.

‘Surely, it is time for the Commonwealth to do more to support lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual people, to ensure they are not discriminated against, no matter where they live?’

LGBTI activists around the globe have also targeted the Commonwealth Games, which will begin on 23 July.

On Friday (18 July), over 150 human rights speakers attended a conference in Glasgow to make a statement condemning anti-gay laws in the Commonwealth.

Monica Tabengwa, a Human Rights Watch activist from Botswana, said: ‘It is unfortunate that the Commonwealth is so silent and non-committal on LGBTI human rights issues affecting members of the Commonwealth family.

‘It is time now for this institution to get involved and come up with effective measures and guidelines for holding countries responsible for human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

‘Commonwealth institutions have to commit resources to work with partners and friendly countries to counter the alien legacy of criminalization.’