A NEW campaign is urging the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to turn its attention to the rights of LGBTI people.

The campaign hopes the next CHOGM — to be held in the UK in 2018 — will include LGBTI rights on the main agenda and invite LGBTI people from across the Commonwealth to address CHOGM leaders.

African LGBTI organisation Out and Proud Diamond Group is leading the campaign with the support of the London-based Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“The Commonwealth is committed to building a better world by including and respecting everybody and the richness of their personalities,” Out and Proud Diamond Group director Edwin Sesange said in a statement.

“But so far, the Commonwealth’s inclusivity does not include LGBTI Commonwealth citizens.”

The campaign urges citizens in each of the 53 Commonwealth nations to sign and email a Change.org petition to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma.

Around 2.2 billion people live in the Commonwealth, and more than half the nations around the world in which homosexuality is illegal happen to be Commonwealth member nations.

Australian-born LGBTI rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the failure of the CHOGM to take a stand on LGBTI rights undermined the Commonwealth’s principles.

“The Commonwealth leaders’ summit has never in the last 60-plus years discussed LGBTI human rights,” he said.

“Forty out of 53 Commonwealth member states criminalise homosexuality.

“This makes a mockery of Commonwealth values and the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter.

“CHOGM 2018 must remedy these failings by hearing the voices of LGBTI Commonwealth citizens and acting to support their human rights.”

Abbey Kiwanuka, the chief executive of Out and Proud Diamond Group, said African nations were capable of change but needed support from other Commonwealth countries.

“Commonwealth countries like Uganda and Nigeria have the capacity to repeal their anti-LGBTI laws.”

“We do not expect the UK or any other LGBTI-friendly country to tell these anti-LBGTI nations to decriminalise homosexuality but we do request them to help initiate a dialogue between the governments in anti-LGBTI countries and their LGBTI communities.”

To sign the campaign’s petition, click here

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