Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has delivered on a pledge to call on Commonwealth nations to end laws targeting sexual minorities at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.
However calls by the host nation look to have fallen on deaf ears, with decriminalisation of LGBTIs receiving no mention in the CHOGM 2011 Comminique that lists Commonwealth leaders’ priorities for the next two years.
Rudd raised the need to repeal sodomy laws during a Foreign Ministers Meeting with Civil Society on Thursday.
The meeting coincided with the release of the former prime minister’s It Gets Better video on YouTube.
“Kevin strongly declared Australia’s position on decriminalisation, and our determination to continue to advocate for LGBT rights within the Commonwealth and more broadly,” Rudd’s office told the Star Observer.
“Canada was the only other nation to raise the issue with the Foreign Ministers.”
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma reiterated previous comments that sodomy laws were incompatible with Commonwealth values but said it was up to individual countries to resolve that issue.
HIV/AIDS received only a passing reference in the Communique where Commonwealth leaders, “commit[ed] to accelerating action to implement the objectives outlined in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on AIDS”.
However this was only part of a general commitment, “to universal access to health care, and services to improve maternal and reproductive health”.
Recommendations on HIV made by the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group in their report were handed to a Commonwealth task force along with 43 other recommendations that leaders could not come to an agreement on.
The recommendations included that the Commonwealth Secretary-General “should ensure that HIV/AIDS is prominent in the agendas of all relevant Commonwealth meetings,” and should be “authorised to work with UN bodies … to develop joint programs with private sector organisations, including the pharmaceutical industry and philanthropic organisations”.
It also recommended that, “Heads of Government should take steps to encourage the repeal of discriminatory laws that impede the effective response of Commonwealth countries to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and commit to programmes of education that would help a process of repeal of such laws,” as well as look at global intellectual property laws which effect the cost of HIV related healthcare.
HIV rates in Commonwealth countries are double those in the rest of the world and the majority of HIV positive people live within the Commonwealth.