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Sunday, 25 May 2008

British Foreign Office instructs embassies to push LGBT rights


Our comment: Whilst one wing of the British government denies LGBT persecution overseas another decries it

British Foreign Office instructs embassies to push LGBT rights

The British government has adopted an official programme to support the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people in other countries.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued an 'LGBT Toolkit' to its 261 embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic posts.

The document lists PinkNews.co.uk as an online information resource about gay rights, the only news organisation on the list.

"The FCO fully supports equality in the enjoyment of human rights and the inadmissibility of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation," the document states.

"This provides the focus of FCO work on this issue."

The kit contains information on the official British policy on gay rights and instructions in how to "provide added value to equality and non-discrimination work."

"Governments have an obligation to promote equality in the enjoyment of human rights, as well as not to discriminate in their application," the document states.

"Frequently there is discrimination in the enjoyment of key rights, even in countries where the criminal laws are neutral.

"Tackling this would require the building up of local coalitions of non-state actors to elaborate action plans for each country, as well as working locally with like-minded states.

"This would not just apply to issues like the state of the criminal law, but also to freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression and privacy.

"The FCO should identify, with the support of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and international LGBT groups like the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), countries where support from Posts and The British Council would provide added value to equality and non-discrimination work."

The British Council is a government department, independent of the FCO, that promotes British culture and educational relationships worldwide.

The 'toolkit' covers a wide range of issues, from decriminalisation, sexual health, reproductive rights and health education to bilateral work with other countries.

The document states that LGBT activists are often targets for persecution and that the FCO should ensure these people are "included among human rights defenders concerning whom the UK will lobby and will engage the support of other governments, especially EU members."

It says that initial discussions with the TUC suggest that countries of particular concern include Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and some of the new democracies of Eastern Europe.

Of particular interest to gay rights activists is this statement from the FCO:

"The nine countries that have a maximum penalty of death for consensual same sex relations are Iran, Iraq, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, UAE and Yemen.

"The ten countries that have a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for consensual same sex relations are Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Burma, Guyana, India, Maldives, Nepal, Singapore, and Uganda.

Source: PinkNews

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