Queen to support a new Commonwealth charter backing gay rights
The Queen is this year due to sign a historic charter intended to combat homophobic discrimination.
The decision to back such a charter has been regarded as key change to Commonwealth policy. Indeed, the antiquated anti-gay legislation still operates in a high percentage of Commonwealth countries including Jamaica, Singapore and Malaysia.
However, the charter does not specifically include the word “homosexuality”. Rather the charter outlines its aims as: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds”.
The “other grounds” element is believed to implicitly include homosexuality yet the exclusion of the words “gay” or “homosexuality” has received some criticism.
Ben Summerskill, head of the equal rights organisation Stonewall, however, insists this is still an important step forward.
Indeed, he stated: “It would be churlish not to acknowledge that this is a first step to equality in some of these countries. We would of course be much happier if the terms would be addressed and discussed openly. But if addressing them obliquely is a first step, we should be happy with that”.
Aiming to tackle discrimination, the charter also addresses gender discrimination and contains a commitment to maintaining “gender equality” and “women’s empowerment”.
Interestingly, the charter is set to introduce a new legislation that removes discrimination against women who are in line to the throne. This would mean that if The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a daughter she would be able to succeed the throne.