For the first time in Her Majesty’s 61 year reign, the Queen has signalled that she supports gay rights.
In a live television broadcast the British monarch will sign a new Commonwealth charter designed to stamp out discrimination against the LGBT community and promote the ‘empowerment’ of women. The broadcast has been described as a “watershed” moment.
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 ‘other grounds’ clause within the charter is intended to refer to sexuality, however, the Daily Mail reports the terms gay and lesbian were omitted because some Commonwealth countries still have anti-gay laws.
A diplomatic source said:
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 Stonewall, said the Queen had taken “an historic step forward” on gay rights, and said “The Palace has finally caught up with public opinion.”
Homosexual acts are still illegal in 41 of the 54 Commonwealth Nations – and include penalties such as the death sentence in parts of Nigeria. Those found guilty of a homosexual act can expect life sentences in prison in Trinidad, Tobago, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana.
Only five Commonwealth countries recognise same-sex relationships, the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.
The Queen will be joined by Beverly Knight, the Noisettes and Sir Richard Branson at a service at Westminster Abbey, before making her address.