The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, in advance of the opening of the Commonwealth Games on 23 July, welcomed competitors from across the Commonwealth and wished the organisers a successful Games.
As Glasgow readies itself for the Commonwealth Games, activists and allies are asking the public to remember that in 4 out of 5 countries within the Commonwealth it is still illegal to be LGBT.
‘I would like to offer the warmest welcome to the athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It is a fantastic sporting occasion, which I hope will be well supported, and it is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the spirit of the Commonwealth.’
Mr Bercow is a keen sports player and recently published a book about male tennis players. He is an enthusiast of football and tennis, is an Arsenal season ticket holder and was a junior tennis champion. He regards it as part of his role in representing the House of Commons to support British sports, whenever possible.
Commenting on the issue of LBGT rights, discrimination and the Commonwealth Games, John Bercow MP continued,
‘Sadly, there might be world-class athletes who will not be able to compete in the Games, as they will have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality; shamefully, it is estimated that 4 out of every 5 countries in the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality. Surely, it is time for the Commonwealth to do more to support lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual people, to ensure they are not discriminated against, no matter where they live?’
Peter Tatchell has urged Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister to condemn the ‘Commonwealth homophobia’. In a statement Tatchell said, ‘We are asking Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, to express his grave concern at the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people in 42 of the 53 Commonwealth member states. We urge him to appeal to all participating countries to adhere to Article 7 of the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution, which prohibits all discrimination,
‘Countries that refuse to support Article 7 – or that perpetuate discrimination in access to sports facilities, training camps or team selection – should be barred from participating in the Commonwealth Games. If they are not prepared to abide by Article 7 they have no right to come to Glasgow or future Commonwealth Games.’