Emeli Sande urges Commonwealth leaders to see LGBT+ people ‘as human beings’ and overturn anti-gay laws

Emeli Sande urges Commonwealth leaders to see LGBT+ people ‘as human beings’ and overturn anti-gay laws

Singer Emeli Sande has urged Commonwealth leaders to overturn anti-gay laws and “see people as human beings”.

Speaking to the Commonwealth leaders that have gathered for CHOGUM (Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting) this week, the half-Zambian singer has asked the world leaders to repeal the anti-gay laws that are existent in the majority of Commonwealth countries.

“They need see people as human beings,” said the Next To Me singer to the Evening Standard.

“I hope this will send a message that we are all equal, that we are all humans going through a human experience. I hope there is more freedom and equality for them as well in Zambia. I think it will improve the country in all kinds of ways,” she added.

Sande’s father is from Zambia, which is one of the African nations that inherited Britain’s colonial anti-gay laws.

Gay Zambians can be imprisoned for life for their sexuality, and it is one of 36 out of 53 countries that continue to criminalise same-sex acts, primarily under laws imposed during the British colonial era which were never repealed.

Sande is not the only high-profile figure who has spoken in favour of LGBT+ rights in the run-up to CHOGUM.

Prince Harry met with LGBT activists from the Commonwealth today and said that the “the tide is turning” on LGBT rights in the nations. The Prince, who spoke to advocates with his fiancée, humanitarian and gender equality activist Meghan Markle, said that change was in the air.

“It’s amazing, because five to ten years ago, we wouldn’t be having these conversations,” Prince Harry reportedly said, “and you guys would’ve been going against the tide. And now, here you are – the tide is changing, and this is a sign of it.”

Prince Harry and Megan Markle encouraged humanitarian advocates

LGBT Commonwealth campaigners submitted a petition signed by 104,000 people to get LGBT rights on the agenda at the CHOGUM meeting. The campaigners have demanded that this is the year that LGBT rights are discussed at the summit.

“Surprisingly, in the 60 years since its existence, they [CHOGUM] have never discussed LGBTQI rights,” said the Director of the African Equality Foundation, Edwin Sesange.

“The Commonwealth does deal in controversial issues – it got involved with the Apartheid – so we strongly believe that the Commonwealth is capable of dealing with homophobia in these countries.”

Edwin Sesange

Prime Minister Theresa May, during the summit, said that she “deeply regrets” the legislation that was imposed on African countries like Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia during British rule. Addressing the heads of government on Tuesday, May said to the leaders that the anti-gay laws “were wrong then and they are wrong now”.

“Across the world, discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalizing same sex relations and failing to protect women and girls,” she said. “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. As the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, I deeply regret the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.”

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