Britain will help any Commonwealth country wanting to reform anti-gay laws, the Prime Minister said today.
Theresa May said she “deeply regrets” discriminatory legislation established by Britain during the colonial era.
Raising the legacy of “discrimination, violence and even death”, she added: “Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love.”
Addressing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this morning, she went on: “The UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible. The world has changed.”
More than 100 million gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Commonwealth countries are classed as criminals.
An anti-gay rights campaigner today claimed Mrs May was pressuring the countries into adopting equality laws. Bishop Victor Gill of Trinidad told Radio 4’s Today programme there was strong resistance against Commonwealth leaders who want to change legislation. He accused Mrs May and others of “neocolonialism”, adding: “The gay agenda is being forced on us.”
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell had called on Mrs May to “apologise for what Britain did by forcing homophobic laws on colonial peoples… An apology would wrong-foot homophobes in the anti-gay member states by highlighting the nonindigenous nature of their current homophobic legislation.”