Rudd to call for end to anti-gay laws

Rudd to call for end to anti-gay laws

Foreign Minster Kevin Rudd will call for an end to laws criminalising homosexuality at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth next week.

A spokeswoman for Rudd said he would raise the issue with foreign ministers from Commonwealth countries attending the meeting.

“Australia is a global advocate of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the spokeswoman said.

“Australia encourages all countries to decriminalise homosexuality by removing all laws imposing criminal penalties for homosexual conduct.

“Mr Rudd will be raising these matters with Commonwealth foreign ministers at CHOGM.”

CHOGM advisory group the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which includes retired High Court judge Michael Kirby as its Australian representative, has recommended Commonwealth countries repeal legislation that criminalises homosexuality because anti-gay laws are hampering efforts to combat the spread of HIV.

The EPG report is part of the formal CHOGM agenda.

“Australia is encouraging all governments to respond substantively to the EPG recommendations,” Rudd’s spokeswoman said.

Earlier this month Kirby told the Star Observer he has high hopes for the three-day meeting.

“The levels of HIV infection in Commonwealth countries are double the levels in non-Commonwealth countries. It is therefore a specific Commonwealth problem,” Kirby said.

“In 41 of the 54 Commonwealth countries, the law is still in place that makes homosexual activity illegal and criminal.

“That has to change if there is to be an effective response to HIV and AIDS and I hope our prime minister can make that point as respectfully but forcefully as possible to friends in other Commonwealth countries.”

South Australian Labor MLC Ian Hunter and Melbourne-born British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell have called for LGBT rights to be put firmly on the agenda at the meeting.

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

Tatchell has written to British Foreign Secretary William Hague calling for LGBT issues to be raised.

“CHOGM has never even discussed — let alone declared its support for — LGBT equality and human rights,” Tatchell wrote.

“Like the United Nations, the Commonwealth is a significant international forum. CHOGM’s support for the decriminalisation of homosexuality would be a symbolic and moral victory in the long global battle for LGBT human rights.”

Many Commonwealth countries still have anti-gay laws on their statute books, often as a legacy of British colonial rule.

Despite calls for action at CHOGM in 2009, Australia did not confront Commonwealth country Uganda over a proposed anti-homosexuality bill which called for the death penalty for gay Ugandans.

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13 responses to “Rudd to call for end to anti-gay laws”

  1. Decriminalise homosexuality – but for Christ’s sake, don’t let them marry…

    Thank you Mr Rudd, while I agree with this act; it just reeks of media play when you stood for the Marriage Act not being changed…

  2. It was always going to be Kevin to lead this. He lead the country with the Apology and now with this. As a country we needed that apology, now as a country it is time for anti gay laws to go. Rome wasnt built in a day, but i bet kevin would have a bloody good crack at it.

  3. with all the ferment, we can be almost certain that in a couple years AU will join much of the western world in allowing marriage equality for gay people.

    And I presume NZ will follow.

    And nothing bad will happen, and the gays will set an example for the str8s who are destroing marriage with their endless divorces.

    One of my jobs is to follow gay marriage and divorces. Divorces run about 5-7%, while str8 divorces in the USA run about 50%

    And the states with the lowest divorce rate – MA and CT, have had gay marriage the longest.

    Its not per se that one effects the other – its a measure of how well educated people support gay equality and marriage, str8 or gay

    while most of our states with the highest divorce rates hate gays the most – our ‘southern bible belt” – the people whose forbears gave us slavery, the KKK and segregation.

    Our gay friends and neighbors in those states are simply the newest victims of the hate that infests some parts of xtianity.

  4. Thanks for that information DavidW.
    I will still vote for the Greens, and will ask all may friends to do the same.

  5. Unfortunately Rudd & his party are part of the PROBLEM. After the 2004 Lib/Labor (Howard/Latham) Marriage Ban writing extra discrimination into law, alot of third world countries took notice, and introduce additional discrimination into law as well. When Rudd finally seized power, he did nothing to repeal the actual 2004 Discrimination that was written into law by Howard & Mark Latham. He missed the opportunity, & is now preaching to other countries. I’ve NEVER trusted Rudd after he was so sneaky dodging the 2004 Marriage Ban issue during his election campaign when confronted by 2DayFM, yet then spoke at a Christian Extremist ACL Rally & make a “core election promise” not to repeal the 2004 Ban. The SSO Headline without reading the article could lead some to believe the article is refering to this country. No chance & no hope with him. Just keep voting Green till Labor REALLY gets the message… and get all your friends, family, & work colleagues to do the same.

  6. About Ruddy time!

    If the Liberal Party could stop Abbott cutting his balls off writting his Blood Oathe “I feel uncomfortable about gays”, then who knows what light Australia could be for a our region!