The Queen of England is to sign a historic new charter to promote gay rights and gender equality, as part of her role as head of the Commonwealth — the name given to 54 countries around the world who give their allegiance to the monarchy.
The Queen will sign the 16-point document at London’s Marlborough House on Monday, March 11, to mark Commonwealth Day. The event will be televised and broadcast live.
One part of the document reads: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”
Designed to eradicate discrimination against homosexual people and promote women’s rights, the charter is the cornerstone of a drive to better human rights and living standards across the Commonwealth.
The charter is supported by all 54 countries and also covers the rule of law, democracy, freedom of expression, and international security.
“At a Commonwealth event on Monday, the Queen will sign a charter agreed upon by the 54 members of the Commonwealth. The Queen, as in all matters, is apolitical but is signing the document in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth.”
It was also reported that sources close to the royal household said the Queen would not be giving her personal endorsement to the charter because of her apolitical status.
Despite this, Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay and lesbian rights group Stonewall, said Buckingham Palace had “finally caught up with public opinion,” adding:
“This is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six per cent of her subjects who are gay. Some of the worst persecution of gay people in the world takes place in Commonwealth countries as a result of the British Empire.”
In what will be the Queen’s first public appearance since being hospitalized for a stomach bug, the 86-year-old is expected to make a speech explaining her commitment to the Charter’s goals.
Before the speech, the much loved ruler will celebrate the new charter at a service at Westminster Abbey, where she will be joined by celebrities including rock band The Noisettes and Virgin Group businessman Sir Richard Branson.
Homosexual acts are still illegal in 41 of the Commonwealth’s 54 nations, while same-sex relationships are only recognized in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
What do you think of the Queen signing of the Commonwealth Charter? Vital for gay and equal rights, or meaningless pomp and circumstance?