Queen Elizabeth II and Gay Rights

Queen Elizabeth II and Gay RightsBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II to make historic televised pledge for gay rights. Her Majesty is expected to sign a new charter for the Commonwealth, a document which many have interpreted as a nod to gay rights.

The charterdeclares the core values for the 54 member states, most of which were once under British rule. It’s getting attention for statements on gender equality and what it may imply for gay rights. For the first time the Queen has voiced support for gay rights in her 61-year-old, she is set to sign a new charter, which aims to tackle homophobic discrimination.

The charter reads: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”

The section on gender states: “We recognise that gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights.”

On Monday, Queen Elizabeth will sign the Commonwealth Charter, which lays out the core values of the 54 member states, NPR notes. One particular line in this document is making headlines around the world.

“The impact of this statement on gay and women’s rights should not be underestimated,” a diplomatic source told the Daily Mail. “Nothing this progressive has ever been approved by the United Nations. And it is most unusual for the Queen to request to sign documents in public, never mind call the cameras in.”

Via the Daily Mail:
The charter, dubbed a ‘21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta’ declares: ‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’ The ‘other grounds’ is intended to refer to sexuality – but specific reference to ‘gays and lesbians’ was omitted in deference to Commonwealth countries with draconian anti-gay laws. Sources close to the Royal Household said she is aware of the implications of the charter’s implicit support of gay rights and commitment to gender equality.

A diplomatic source added: “The impact of this statement on gay and women’s rights should not be underestimated. Nothing this progressive has ever been approved by the United Nations. And it is most unusual for the queen to request to sign documents in public, never mind call the cameras in.”

While the concept of gender equality is clearly endorsed, implications for gay rights are not so straightforward. In reference to human rights, the charter says: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds.”

A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace, said: “In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth.” But he added: “The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is on all matters of this sort.”

Ben Summerskill of the Stonewall rights group says the queen has taken a “‘step forward’ on gay rights,” according to the Mail. A “diplomatic source” told the paper, “The impact of this statement on gay and women’s rights should not be underestimated.”

Gay rights have been moving along in the U.K.
Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken on behalf of equality and has backed thebill to legalize same-sex marriage in Britain, which could take effect in 2015. Still, over 80 percent of Commonwealth countries enact anti-gay legislation, according to the Independent. Former British colonies, like Uganda, Singapore, Jamaica and Malaysia, criminalize homosexuality.

The televised ceremony will be Monday from Marlborough House on London’s Pall Mall.

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