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Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland speaking

Statement by Commonwealth Secretary-General on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

17 May 2021

As the COVID pandemic continues to cause immeasurable harm to people the world over it has also exposed the vulnerabilities of those already at the fringes of society and exacerbated the marginalisation, stigma, persecution and violence experienced by members of the LGBTI community.

Yet despite this we as the Commonwealth continue to push for a ‘Common Future’ in which we fulfil the SDGs call to leave no one behind and continue to support dialogue, respect, acceptance of diversity, and recognition of human rights for all.

Our Commonwealth Charter enjoins us all to commit to these values and principles and to the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies.

As we bear witness to instances around the world of discrimination and even violence against LGBTI people, we must remember that human rights are not aspirations, nor slogans. They are not discretionary; rather, they are fundamental and bear upon all aspects of our lives. We cannot choose when to protect human rights or whose human rights to protect because those human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Our Charter resoundingly declares the implacable opposition of our member nations to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or any other grounds. 

This pandemic has once again proven that as we seek to address the problems of the world, we cannot do so in isolation of one another for we risk leaving the most vulnerable and marginalised behind. In commemorating IDAHOT 2021 we must come together to resist attempts to roll back our hard-won victories, whilst also providing comfort and solace to those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic so that we protect the values the Commonwealth Charter and the SDGs.