UK announces millions in funding to promote LGBT rights in Commonwealth

LGBT flag

The government has allocated a further £2.7m to fund the promotion of LGBT rights in Commonwealth countries, which include several Muslim nations.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the money would support grassroots human rights defenders and advance equality and freedom across the Commonwealth. It added that the funding would support civil society organisations working to “amend discriminatory laws and practices.”

The UK has already invested over £11 million in the promotion and protection of LGBT rights across the Commonwealth since 2018.

There are six Muslim-majority countries in the Commonwealth which is an association of nations which were formerly British colonies – Bangladesh, Brunei, Gambia, Malaysia, Maldives and Pakistan. Homosexuality is banned in all of these nations.

Flags of Commonwealth nations

Other countries in the Commonwealth which have large Muslim minorities are Cameroon, India and Tanzania.

“Despite welcome progress in recent years, many LGBT people in Commonwealth countries continue to face discrimination and criminalisation,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“The £2.7 million package announced by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting today will continue work with partners, including The Commonwealth Equality Network and Kaleidoscope Trust, to encourage the reform of outdated laws and policies that fail to protect all individuals from violence and discrimination.

“The Prime Minister will also confirm funding for the Pride programme at next month’s Commonwealth Games in the UK, with the project being backed by over £40,000 from Government and £50,000 from the Commonwealth Sport Foundation. Delivered by Pride House Birmingham, the programme will include a Pride House presence at the three main athlete village sites for the first time ever at a Commonwealth Games.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “The Commonwealth is a voluntary grouping of independent and equal nations, but as a collective it has long been a powerful force for good. The values that our members hold dear, from human rights to equality, should apply to everyone in society.

“I am immensely proud of the UK’s record on LGBT rights – the freedom to love who you want is a core British value and a vital component of any democracy. I hope world will see these values in action at next month’s Commonwealth Games.

“The majority of the new funding (£2.5m) announced today will go to civil society organisations and human rights defenders working to amend and repeal discriminatory laws and policies, and to safeguard progress in equalities.

“A further funding allocation will support a secure data storage system for LGBT refugees from Afghanistan, and fund the UK’s continued work alongside the global Equal Rights Coalition as co-chairs.”

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