For Immediate Release – ‘Unfinished Business’ Week of protest begins to abolish all anti – LGBT+ Commonwealth Laws
A coalition of high-profile UK and global LGBTQI+ rights movements are coalescing this week in a series of protests while The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)*1 that is taking place in the UK next week to demand that they put LGBTQIA+ rights at the top of the agenda. CHOGM leaders have previously always refused to discuss or support LGBT+ issues and concerns*2.
Hosted by groundbreaking Botswana born Trans* ARTivist Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile *3 who is the first outspoken transwoman from Botswana and in association with ‘In Place of War’, ‘African Rainbow Family’, ‘African Equality Foundation’ ‘Rainbow Pilgrims’, ‘Peter Tatchell Foundation’, ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through time’ and more, the week of action includes vigils, street-interventions and performances*3. The walking tours will march across London’s key embassies which maintain homophobic legislation with speeches and creative civil disobedience by activists who have fled homophobic persecution.
In the middle of the week there will be a vigil on Thursday 19th April 2018 entitled ‘Stop LGBTQI+ Persecution in the Commonwealth’ Protest 1-2pm outside the HQ of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London SW1Y 5HX against the criminalisation of same-sex relations by 37 out the 53 Commonwealth member states. It will be joined by LGBTQI+ delegates from across the Commonwealth. SIGN up on Facebook and SHARE: https://www.facebook.
The week of action demands that CHOGM 2018 organisers
- Include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) human rights on the main CHOGM agenda
- Invite openly LGBTI people from the Commonwealth to address the CHOGM leaders.
Unfinished Business – LGBTQI+ Voices of the Revolution will end the week with a performance showcase that brings together an inspirational lineup of LGBTQI+ artists from the UK together with countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQI+ to celebrate and support the next generation of artists, activists and change-makers dedicated to ending homophobia, transphobia and all forms of oppression. It will provide public cultural platforms that will raise awareness outside the CHOGM conference walls agitating for a global movement of creative activism to decriminalise homosexuality everywhere and provide true freedom for all.
“Two years have been passed since Xulhaz Mannan, the publisher and co-founder of Roopban and another LGBTQ activist were brutally murdered by religious activist in Bangladesh which is of the commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is lifetime imprisonment under the section 377 penal code. As a LGBTQ activist from Bangladesh I want justice for my friends Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy and also want commonwealth leader should take necessary steps to abolish the law against homosexuality among all the commonwealth countries including Bangladesh to give us the freedom to live in our own countries as a other normal citizen” Mazharul Islam, LGBTQ activist from Bangladesh.
“The Commonwealth is a bastion of homophobia. In defiance of the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter, 37 out of 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise LGBT+ people. Nine have life imprisonment. In parts of two countries – Pakistan and Nigeria – there is the death penalty. Even more Commonwealth countries fail to protect LGBT+ people against discrimination and hate crime – and reject dialogue with their local LGBT+ organisations. For six decades, the leaders at Commonwealth summits have refused to discuss, let alone support, equality for the estimated more than 100 million LGBT+ citizens living in the member states.” Peter Tatchell, The Peter Tatchell Foundation
“The global landscape for LGBTQI+ refugees, migrants and travellers is a dubious one and we want to shed a light on the important stories marginalised people have to share. At Rainbow Pilgrims, we have given a voice to people who sometimes feel unheard, in order to better understand what more can be done to support the members of these diverse communities and celebrate their contribution to British society and beyond.” Surat-Shaan Knan, founder of Rainbow Pilgrims
‘Human Rights is not a privilege, Commonwealth citizens who are LGBT have the right to freely express who they are without fear of persecution and or prosecution, it is important for these rights to be legally protected and understood.’ Reverend Jide Macaulay, Founder @HouseOfRainbow
‘The laws in Commonwealth states speak in languages inscribed on LGBT+ bodies as bleeding scars. The time has come for states to see these scars and for the cause of the Commonwealth to take responsibility for enabling the recovery process.’ Kat Kai Kol-Kes, ARTivist (Botswana)
Notes to Editors
*1 CHOGM – The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 53 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace.https://www.chogm2018.org.uk/
*2 – http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/commonwealth-summit-2018-bid-for-lgbt-rights/
*3 – Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile (Kol-Kes) is a groundbreaking ARTivist, she uses various art forms for human rights activism and advocacy, bridging the gaps created by jargon and societal insecurities. Kol-Kes is a TED Fellow, the author of …on about the same old things, founder and Creative Director of the Queer Shorts Showcase Festival (Botswana), an alumnus of the Young African Leadership Initiative and a member of the Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network (MMFPN). She has previously served as Curator of the Gaborone Hub of the World Economic Forum initiative- Global Shapers Community, and was a 2016/17 Chevening Scholar. More can be find in http://kkolkes.wixsite.com/kkolkes
*3 – This vigil is being held while the Commonwealth summit is in progress. The venue is: Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. Nearest tubes: Green Park, Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross. Map: http://bit.ly/2FeqE1G – Facebook event page here
Please sign the petition here and share it far and wide. Further info here ‘2018 must be the year the entire Commonwealth recognises LGBT+ Rights’
Further events all details here
Wednesday 18th April 2018 – ‘Queer tour of ‘Nightlife in Soho’ 5-6pm – meeting point at Soho Square, London W1D
Sunday 22nd April 7.30 – 10pm ‘Finale Unfinished Business – LGBT+ Voices of the Revolution performance showcase’ at ‘Rich Mix’ 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA – Performances from leading LGBTQI+ artists showcasing dance, spoken word, electric and acapella songs and much more including SJ Soulist (Poetry & Rap), Daniel McBride (Drag),Kat Kai Kol-Kes (Singing), Iviee Mercutio (Poetry & Rap), Bimini-Bon Boulash (Pole Dancing) – https://www.richmix.org.uk/events/music/unfinished-business-lgbt-voices-revolution-x – or just turn up!