Former British Colonies to Consider Axing Anti-Gay Laws
Leaders of former British Empire countries that continue to outlaw homosexuality will be asked next week to reverse their bans in a bid to reduce their disproportionately high HIV infection rates, an official said Tuesday.
Leaders of 53 countries will meet in the western Australian city of Perth for three days in the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The meeting’s agenda will include a recommendation to legalize homosexuality, said Michael Kirby, Australia’s representative in the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group.
Of those countries attending, 42 still outlaw homosexuality, including Malaysia, which is prosecuting its opposition leader, and many African and Caribbean countries. Host Australia and Britain itself long ago repealed their own bans on gay sex.
Kirby, an openly gay retired High Court judge, blamed the British influence on former colonies for high rates of HIV-AIDS. Most of these countries outlaw homosexual practices, which the rival French Empire legalized in 1791.
"It’s a very special British problem, and the problem is it makes it very difficult to get messages about HIV out," Kirby told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"You need to remove the criminal laws. That is what the Eminent Persons Group is suggesting at the ... meeting next week," he added.