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May urges Commonwealth countries to decriminalise homosexuality

Theresa May has directly addressed the cruel and inhumane treatment of LGBT+ people in Commonwealth countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London last Tuesday. 37 of the 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise homosexuality, most as a direct result of anti-sodomy laws instilled by the British Empire.

May criticised these laws as “outdated” in an address to CHOGM and said that “nobody should face discrimination or persecution because of who they are or who they love.”

She went on to say the UK “deeply regrets” its part in these laws, “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.”

LGBT+ activists have praised the Prime Minister for so publically and directly condemning the laws. Peter Tatchell, an activist, said her speech could not “be easily dismissed and disparaged by Commonwealth heads of government.”

Elsewhere in the Commonwealth, however, May’s words were not taken as well. Deputy Speaker of Ghana’s parliament has urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to condemn May, saying on a radio show, “Homosexuality is worse than an atomic bomb, so for that matter, there is no way we will accept it in the country.”

While in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta told CNN that gay rights are not human rights, but instead homosexuality is an issue of “our own base as a culture.”

Bishop Victor Gill, of Trinidad and Tobago – which recently repealed its sodomy laws – told BBC 4 that “If homosexuality is gonna be decriminalized, it will criminalize Christian freedom. From the perspective of the Christian community, that this is something that is being forced on us by power brokers that are influencing our government.” 

Nigeria has said it absolutely refuses to address LGBT+ rights, even if the Western world imposed sanctions on the African nation. “A country like Nigeria, that is strictly guided by Islamic and Christian codes respectively will not contemplate this act of immorality,” said representative Alhassan Doguwa. “No matter what global consequences we may have to face.” 

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