Saturday, March 9, 2013
For the first time in 61 years as Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in a live television broadcast Sunday, will sign a new charter designed to stop discrimination against gay people and promote the ‘empowerment’ of women, a key part of a new drive to boost human rights and living standards across the Commonwealth.
Dubbed a ‘21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta’ declares:
‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’
The ‘other grounds’ is intended to refer to sexuality but specific reference to ‘gays and lesbians’ was omitted in deference to British Commonwealth member countries who have draconian anti-gay laws.
Sources close to the Royal Household said she is aware of the implications of the charter’s implicit support of gay rights and commitment to gender equality.
In her speech, the Queen is expected to stress that the rights must ‘include everyone’ – and this is seen as an implicit nod to the agenda of inclusivity.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay and lesbian rights group Stonewall, said the Queen – who he called ‘a feminist icon’ – had taken ‘an historic step forward’ on gay rights. He said: ‘This is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six per cent of her subjects who are gay.