The Commonwealth has granted legal recognition to an LGBT group for the first time.
The group of countries, comprised primarily of former territories of the British Empire, have a poor record on LGBT rights.
Many maintain anti-gay laws that are a part of British colonial legacy, with archaic penal codes and laws criminalising gay sex that were simply never repealed across the vast majority of the Commonwealth.
In total at least 36 of the 53 Commonwealth member states criminalise homosexuality – from India to Barbados, Sri Lanka to Tonga.
However, over the past few years activists have made a concerted push to get the Commonwealth to address LGBT issues.
In a win today, the Commonwealth approved the accreditation of the Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN), making it the first LGBTI-focused organisation to be officially accredited by the Commonwealth.
Accreditation means that Equality Network activists will benefit from increased access to, participation in and information about Commonwealth matters.
LGBT activists from across the Commonwealth welcome the news.
Sri Lankan activist and chair of TCEN Rosanna Flamer-Caldera said: “Considering the process it takes, it is a small wonder and a great victory for TCEN to have been given accreditation as a Commonwealth organisation.
“I am certain TCEN can make great inroads into gaining LGBTI rights in the Commonwealth. I look forward to the day when all countries within the Commonwealth adhere to the principles of human rights and equality enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, safeguarding LGBTI rights and upholding freedom and equality for all.”
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