Scotland has been urged to condemn widespread Commonwealth homophobia as the Commonwealth Games kicked off in Glasgow on Wednesday.
“We are asking Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, to express his grave concern at the persecution of LGBTI people in 42 of the 53 Commonwealth member states,” explained British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“We urge him to appeal to all participating countries to adhere to Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution, which prohibits all discrimination,” he said.
Tatchell argued that the “intensity of homophobia” in anti-gay Commonwealth countries “is so great that it is very unlikely that they would select an LGBTI athlete to compete in Glasgow.
“I can’t imagine homophobic states like Uganda, Brunei or Nigeria selecting an LGBTI athlete. They are more likely to jail them than send them to Glasgow,” he said.
Tatchell also wrote to the Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014, David Grevemberg, calling for him to bar countries from the Games that refuse to sign an anti-discrimination pledge.
“We are asking Glasgow 2014 to require competing nations to sign a pledge of non-discrimination in their team selection, in accordance with Article 7 of the constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation – but with expanded grounds of non-discrimination such as ethnicity, caste, sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Tatchell.
“While Glasgow 2014 cannot be held responsible for the anti-gay laws of 80% of Commonwealth member states, it does have a responsibility to ensure that there is no discrimination by participating nations in the selection of their national teams,” he added in the letter.
The Commonwealth is an association of 53 nations, most of which are former British colonies. In 2012, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma spoke out against the “discrimination or stigmatisation” of gays and lesbians in a speech at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Despite this, the vast majority of Commonwealth countries continue to retain colonial-era laws that criminalise homosexuality. Seven of these impose life sentences, while in three, Nigeria, Brunei and Pakistan, gay people can be executed under Sharia law.