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Secretary-General calls for respect on sexual orientation and gender identity

30 January 2014
Statement by: Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has renewed his call for Commonwealth values to be upheld. This follows recent developments in a number of Commonwealth member states affecting the rights of citizens based on their sexual orientation.

The Secretary-General said: "The Commonwealth Charter underlines the importance which people of the Commonwealth collectively attach to tolerance, respect and understanding. The Charter underlines that diversity and the richness of our multiple identities as individuals are fundamental to the Commonwealth. It emphasises that the protection of the dignity of all human beings is critical to promoting equitable, peaceful and prosperous societies in which we all wish to live.

"In the Commonwealth Charter, the people of the Commonwealth are committed to equality and human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations for peaceful, just and stable societies.

"With regard to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, the responsibility for mutually respectful and constructive national debate is one to be shared by all parties, including parliaments, national human rights institutions and human rights defenders. Judiciaries continue to have a vital role in interpreting and applying national constitutional provisions, and consonance of national laws with international obligations.

“The Commonwealth Secretariat continues to offer its services to assist in progress that advances our shared values at the pan-Commonwealth and national levels.”