Yemisi Ilesanmi commented on Peter Tatchell’s Huffington Post article yesterday about the inadequacy of the queen’s putative “support” for LGBT rights in the Commonwealth. Her comment is a valuable short article in itself.
There is a reason many government officials especially politicians prefer the ‘other grounds’ clause to a more specific mention of sexual orientation, it gives them a leeway to squeeze out of any obligation not to discriminate, jail or kill on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Speaking as a Lawyer, Advocate and solicitor, I know from experience that ‘Other grounds’ clause could be held to mean so many things and also held to exclude so many things by government not willing to respect the rights of others. New International human right treaties now explicitly mentioning sexual orientation, this new Commonwealth charter should not be an exception.
As someone who was part of the team that made an input into the draft Commonwealth charter, our suggestion of including sexual orientation as an explicitly mentioned ground was ignored because it made commonwealth members that want to keep discriminating and persecuting LGBTs in their countries, uncomfortable. This also means if we ever decided to use the charter as a defense of LGBT rights, we have to waste precious time proving that ‘Other grounds’ includes sexual orientation; this could have been avoided if it was explicitly mentioned.
Needless to say, in many African countries that already signed on to international treaties with the ‘Other grounds’ clause, affirming that sexual orientation is included in the ‘other grounds’ clause has been tedious for LGBT advocates. This new charter has not in any way simplified the burden borne by many LGBTs in many African Commonwealth nations.
It is good to have knowledgeable people on the case.