Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh SharmaUPDATE: November 1, 2011. Despite pressure from the Secretary General, and courageous activism from LGBT activists across the commonwealth, leaders of member nations in Perth over the weekend ruled out supporting a Commonwealth-wide decriminalisation of homosexuality.
This is disappointing -- but the fight is far from over. All Out is working on a new #WeAreNotIllegal blog, which we will use to draw the world media's attention to the impacts on millions of us of these backward laws.
Do you live in one of the 75+ countries where it's still considered a "crime" to be lesbian, gay, bi or trans? That's wrong, and we need you to tell the world why. Here are the 3 easy steps to sharing your story:
1) WRITE A TESTIMONIAL
on a piece of paper, telling us how criminalization effects you, your friends, or family. At the bottom of every testimonial, please write #WeAreNotIllegal. Anybody can do this -- LGBT, straight ally, friend, family, health care provider, everybody welcome.
2) TAKE A PICTURE OF YOURSELF
holding up your statement. You can use the statement to cover up as much of your face as you want, to protect your identity as needed.
See here for an example.
3) EMAIL THE IMAGE to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Include your first name (or "anonymous" if you prefer), your country, and your permission for us to post this image to the "We Are Not Illegal" blog.
Right now, almost 80 countries around the world make it a crime to be gay, lesbian, bi or transgender. In 10 of those nations, you can be sentenced to death or life behind bars. The majority of these nations share a connection - they are members of the Commonwealth - an organization bringing together 54 nations to collaborate on politics, culture and economic development.
The Commonwealth leaders are gathering this week in Perth, Australia where Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, just gave a courageous speech calling on each of the Commonwealth nations to finally end discrimination and criminalization of LGBT people. It's historic, but hardly a done deal: Forces within the Commonwealth are working double-time to silence Sharma and others, giving nations that send gays and lesbians to jail a free pass for yet another year.
We need to support Secretary General Sharma and show the other heads of state that a massive global outcry is bubbling up in their own countries and demanding fairness.