Prime Minister David Cameron

LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell has urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to apologise for anti-gay laws imposed on its former colonies.

Over forty Commonwealth nations, nearly all of them former British colonies, currently criminalise same-sex relationships with lengthy jail terms. They comprise over half of the world’s countries that continue to outlaw homosexuality.

“Prime Minister David Cameron should apologise for Britain’s imposition of anti-gay laws on Commonwealth counties in the nineteenth century, during the period of colonial rule,” said Tatchell, who is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“He should make the apology at this weekend’s Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, which begins on Friday, 28 October, in Perth, Australia,” added Tatchell.

“This is the appropriate moment for David Cameron to apologise for the homophobic persecution Britain has inflicted on the gay peoples of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. It would be a welcome gesture of contrition and moral leadership for our Prime Minister to acknowledge this terrible wrong and seek to atone for it.”

In recent weeks, both Australia and the UK have pledged to raise LGBT issues at the Commonwealth meeting.

South Africa, which is a founding member of the Commonwealth, has not made any comment on the issue of the oppression of LGBT people in Commonwealth countries.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma made history when he voiced his support for gay rights in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF) in Perth on Tuesday.

“We recall the 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, which includes a clear commitment to tolerance, respect and understanding,” said Sharma.

“This means we embrace difference, and that includes sexual identity. Discrimination and criminalisation on grounds of sexual orientation is at odds with our values…” Sharma told the CPF delegates.

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