Sunday, August 7, 2022

Government is using Commonwealth ‘soft power’ to press 35 nations to decriminalize LGBT people

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Of the 70 nations around the world that ban same-sex relationships, 35 are members of the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (CSC), which is part of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), has created a grant to offer members of the LGBT community from across the 56-strong group of nations places at some of Britain’s top universities.

The government has used the Commonwealth’s “soft power” to try to influence a law change that discriminates against LGBTQ people among more than half of the international organization’s members. I can reveal.

Professor Robin Mason, Chair of the CSC, announced that the grant program is part of the Commission’s annual budget of £28 million.

Professor Mason said: “This year we will be running a professional grants program for Commonwealth grantees focused on LGBTQ equality.

“With that in mind, we will run a recognized equality, inclusion and human rights programme, but it is not our job as a Commission to engage in political discussions about human rights, that is the responsibility of the FCDO agency. ”

On the subject of Commonwealth soft power, most visible when the Queen intervened on issues such as Margaret Thatcher’s anti-sanctions stance on South Africa in the mid-1980s, Professor Mason suggested that the CSC’s programs were influencing US politics could have member nations.

‘For us it is primarily a scientific activity,’ added Professor Mason. “Of course we are aware of the influence that these people, many of whom later hold leadership positions in their countries, can later have in their home country.

“That’s not the commission’s primary or secondary role, but obviously if you get a lot of high-level alumni, we recognize that over time it’s had an impact.”

In addition to the LGBTQ Scholarship, the CSC now offers 900 education scholarships each year to people from across the Commonwealth and over the last 60 years has given over 28,000 people the opportunity to study at leading universities in the UK.

Each individual applying for a scholarship must demonstrate how they will use the program to benefit the communities in their home country.

During yesterday’s opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, LGBTQ activist and champion diver Tom Daley waved the Pride flag in protest at anti-gay laws in participating nations.

Commonwealth countries represent half of all countries worldwide that criminalize same-sex relationships. Of these countries, seven have a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for breaking the law imposed by Britain during colonial rule in the 19th century.

Earlier this month, an Islamic Sharia court in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi ordered the stoning of three people accused of having engaged in same-sex intercourse.

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