South Australian Labor MLC Ian Hunter and British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell have called for LGBT rights to be put on the agenda of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to be held in Perth on October 28 – 30 this year.

Hunter has twice written to Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma to raise concerns about homophobia and hate crimes in some Commonwealth nations and to ask that this issue be addressed at CHOGM.

Hunter first wrote to Sharma in May, expressing concern that the Commonwealth did not support the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO), and again in August to congratulate Sharma on his statement at the Commonwealth

Law Ministers Meeting in Sydney in July that “vilification and targeting on grounds of sexual orientation are at odds with the values of the Commonwealth”.

Hunter has provided copies of his letters to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

Tatchell has written to British Foreign Secretary William Hague to request that he lobby the Australian Government as CHOGM hosts to put LGBT issues on the agenda.

“More than 40 Commonwealth countries currently have a total ban on homosexuality, mostly as a result of laws that were imposed by Britain during the colonial era and which were not repealed when these nations won their independence,” Tatchell wrote.

“These 40-plus Commonwealth member states account for more than half of the world’s countries that still criminalise same-sex relations.

“CHOGM has never even discussed — let alone declared its support for — LGBT equality and human rights. It is long overdue that CHOGM addressed this humanitarian issue, which it has neglected for far too long.”

The issues Hunter and Tatchell would like to see on the CHOGM agenda include the decriminalisation of homosexuality, anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation and gender identity, the protection of LGBT people from hate crimes, and consultation and dialogue with LGBT organisations and representatives.

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