The Queen has spoken about how countries in the Commonwealth needs to tackle inclusion in the forthcoming year.
The Queen has written a letter which stresses the need to “support those in need” and to support others who “feel excluded” throughout the Commonwealth.
Although the Queen fails to mention LGBTI people specifically, many LGBTI people who live within the Commonwealth live in countries where there are laws against homosexuality. Including two which call for the death penalty, Brunei and Northern Nigeria.
The Commonwealth has in the past come under scrutiny from the LGBT community as many of 53 member countries, over 40, still have laws against homosexuality or have laws which fail to protect LGBTI people. There are two countries which still have the death penalty as a punishment for homosexual acts and 18 which imprison people for homosexual acts.
The Queen wrote,
Today, and in the year ahead, the theme An Inclusive Commonwealth is an inspiration for us all.
Let us give it practical effect by supporting those in need and those who feel excluded in all walks of life.
By doing so, we will continue to build a truly representativeCommonwealth community.
Each of us has cause to celebrate the sense of belonging expressed in our 2016 theme: An Inclusive Commonwealth.
Our recognition of this value, and the wisdom of mutual respect for each other, is set out in the Commonwealth Charter. Its opening words, ‘We the people of the Commonwealth’ convey the conviction that individuals, as well as governments, build and shape our success.
Being inclusive and accepting diversity goes far deeper than accepting differences at face value and being tolerant.
True celebration of the dignity of each person, and the value of their uniqueness and contribution, involves reaching out, recognising and embracing their individual identity.
“Somebody told me one of the most shocking statistics that I’ve heard in my life, which is that 90 per cent of the people that live in the Commonwealth, with British legacy therefore… live in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
“Ninety per cent. That’s what we’ve given the world as our historic legacy.”
The Queen’s message will be included at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.