Commonwealth Day protest announced for Monday, March 13

Graham Robson March 9, 2023

A protest is to take place as King Charles, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Commonwealth leaders arrive for the annual Commonwealth Day service on Monday, March 13. Organisers are asking protestors to gather at 1.30pm opposite Westminster Abbey, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3PA.

Thirty-two out of 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relations, in defiance of the “toothless” Commonwealth Charter. Seven have life imprisonment and only recently the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” has returned in Uganda.

The protest is supported by the Out & Proud African LGBTI, African Equality Foundation and the Peter Tatchell Foundation – and is led by Ugandan LGBTQ+ people.

Uganda’s “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” stipulates:

•Ten years jail for male & female homosexuality or for professing a LGBTQ+ identity.
•Ten years jail for touching with homosexual intent or claiming to be married to same-sex partner.
•Two-10 years jail for attempting homosexuality or having gay sex while HIV+.
•One to seven years’ jail for providing premises to LGBTQ+ people
•Two to five years’ jail for promoting, advocating, funding or sponsoring homosexuality.
•Two years jail for aiding and counselling homosexuality or conspiring to commit homosexuality.

In addition, LGBTQ+ people must pay compensation to their “victims.” Persons charged with aggravated same-sex offences must undergo forced HIV tests.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said: “The Commonwealth is a total sham for failing to speak out against the 32 Commonwealth nations that are allowed to terrorise LGBTQ+ people with impunity. The Uganda Bill is one of the most sweeping & draconian homophobic laws ever considered by any regime in the world.

“It would outlaw almost every aspect of LGBTQ+ existence, including LGBTQ+ identity, advocacy, funding and organisation. The bill violates Sections 2 and 4 of the Commonwealth Charter. It also breaches Article 21 of the Uganda constitution & Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter of Human & People’s Rights – both of which guarantee equal treatment and prohibit discrimination.”

Abbey Kiwanuka 

Abbey Kiwanuka, a Ugandan activist with of the Out & Proud African LGBTI group, said: “Contrary to what the proposers of this bill claim, no one is recruiting anyone into homosexuality. Politicians in Uganda scapegoat LGBTQ+ people and use homosexuality as a pretext to divert people from questioning their failed policies.

“It’s high time Ugandans woke up and realised that homosexuality is not the cause of people’s suffering. The problem is the rotten, corrupt system that has undermined and deterred the country’s development. We are ready to fight this bill, and victory will be ours.”

Edwin Sesange

Edwin Sesange, from the African Equality Foundation, said: “There is no peaceful common future in the Commonwealth when LGBTQ+ people are being persecuted, I call upon the leadership to speak out and hold countries like Uganda accountable and to respect basic human rights.”