The President of European Humanist Federation, Mr. David Pollock, wrote on 4 October 2011 to Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, as follows:
"Please do your best to ensure that the appalling persecution of LGBT people is placed on the agenda for the Commonwealth Conference later this month.
CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] should mandate:
- Decriminalisation of homosexuality
- Laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
- Protection of LGBT people from hate crimes by full enforcement of legislation against threats and violence
- Government consultation and dialogue with LGBT organisations".
We received an acknowledgement next day:
"The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr Kamalesh Sharma, has asked me to thank you for your e-mail of 4 October 2011 and writing of your concerns. I can assure you that your views have been taken carefully into account. And in his opening address to the conference on 25 October, he came out with a clear statement in support of LGBT rights. The Commonwealth Secretary-General said:
"We recall the 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, which includes a clear commitment to tolerance, respect and understanding. This means we embrace difference, and that includes sexual identity. Discrimination and criminalisation on grounds of sexual orientation is at odds with our values."
It remains to be seen how much this welcome and unambiguous declaration will affect the situation in countries being part of the Commonwealth.