Government Minister Ian McCartney has published (on IDAHO or should that be IDAHOBIT? - International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia) a really good statement on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website pledging to work against discrimnination worldwide, especially countries who criminalise same sex acts and use either the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Its an excellent statement which can be accessed here. But it's so good I include it in full....
On the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Foreign Office Minister Ian McCartney today affirmed Britain’s commitment to the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. Announcing the development of a new UK strategy on international LGBT rights he said:
'We have taken a lead in ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK. But elsewhere the picture remains bleak. More than 70 countries totally prohibit consenting same-sex relations, and nine countries punish them with death, denying people their basic human rights. Every year hundreds of LGBT people are killed simply because of their sexual orientation. Some by State execution; many more while the State looks on indifferently. Many thousands more live in fear of persecution. Human rights belong to everyone. Sexual orientation cannot be a qualifying factor.
'The Foreign and Commonwealth is developing a strategy for promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBT people overseas. This year sees the 40th Anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in the UK, which began the decriminalisation of homosexuality. We can mark this milestone by speaking up for those millions around the world who are branded as criminals simply for being who they are. I look forward to working in partnership with NGOs and other stakeholders to develop our strategy.
'LGBT people have struggled to gain recognition of their human rights internationally. Many states refuse even to consider these issues and strive to keep them off the international agenda. Millions of our fellow human beings live in societies still blighted by stigma, prejudice and shame. Their suffering is unseen and unheard. These will be difficult issues to raise, but we must speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.'
In an addition to efforts on decriminalisation there are 5 other areas where UK action can make a difference:
- non-discrimination in the application of human rights;
- support for LGBT activists and human rights defenders;
- health and health education;
- raising LGBT issues at international / multilateral institutions;
- and bilateral engagement with key countries.
Equally Ian is due to speak at the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights AGM on Saturday 26th May at 3pm at an open meeting (the AGM business itself is from 1pm till 3pm for members and affiliates) and will address the issue of international LGBT issues as well as agreeing to answer questions.
If you're in London at the time, why not drop in? Its at the UNISON building, Mabledon PLace, London (by St Pancras/Euston).