‘Deeply regret’ colonial era homophobic laws: PM May

May said London would support any Commonwealth member-state seeking to reform outdated legislation.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May hosts a meeting with leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries at 10 Downing Street in London on April 17, 2018.(Reuters)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May hosts a meeting with leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries at 10 Downing Street in London on April 17, 2018.(Reuters)
Published on Apr 17, 2018 07:56 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, London | By, London

Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday said Britain “deeply regrets” introducing laws that criminalised same-sex relations in India and elsewhere in the former British Empire, but did not tender an apology as demanded by campaigners. 

Speaking at the joint plenary forum of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, May said London would support any member-state seeking to reform outdated legislation. She also funding of £212 million for girls’ education in the group. 

India is among some 36 countries in the Commonwealth where same-sex relations face criminal charges. Indian courts are currently hearing a case brought by campaigners to set aside Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, enacted during British rule, to criminalise such relations.

May told the audience that included Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness: “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. 

“As the UK’s Prime Minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today. As a family of nations we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions. 

“But we must do so in a manner consistent with our common value of equality, a value that is clearly stated in the Commonwealth charter. Recent years have brought welcome progress…Yet there remains much to do. Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love.”

Human Rights and LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell, who last week called on May to tender an apology at CHOGM, said: “We thank Theresa May for heeding our appeal and expressing deep regret for Britain’s imposition of homophobic laws during the colonial era. 

“It is a positive and welcome move. But it should have been made in front of the Commonwealth leaders who oversee the enforcement of these repressive laws, not at a NGO side event. This statement of regret cannot be easily dismissed and disparaged by Commonwealth heads of government.” 

The heads of state and government of 53 member states, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are due to meet for an executive session on April 19 and a retreat at Windsor on April 20, where the framework for the Commonwealth’s future is expected to be drawn up.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • French President Emmanuel Macron 

    On bid to cut oil prices, what Macron has been told by UAE, Saudi

    Two top OPEC oil producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, can barely increase oil production, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said he had been told by the UAE's president. Read: France holds parliamentary election in vital test for Macron "And then he said (the) Saudis can increase by 150 (thousands barrels per day). Maybe a little bit more, but they don't have huge capacities before six months' time," Macron said.

  • Police block the scene where a semitrailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio.

    At least 40 migrants found dead in truck in US city: Report

    At least 40 people have been found dead inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, news agencies reported citing law enforcement official briefed on the matter. San Antonio's KSAT television reported 42 people dead inside the truck, in a presumed migrant smuggling attempt in South Texas. San Antonio police is yet to make an official statement on the incident. Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a tweet that the victims' nationalities were still unknown.

  • In many European countries, monkeypox cases are rising,

    More than 3,400 monkeypox cases reported to WHO globally: 5 things to know

    The World Health Organization has confirmed over 3,400 reported cases of monkeypox and one related death globally as of last Wednesday, with majority of them from Europe. In an update on Monday, the WHO said that 1,310 new cases were reported to the UN health agency since June 17, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases. 5 things to know about monkeypox: Monkeypox is a large DNA virus belonging to the orthopoxvirus family.

  • People watch as smoke bellows after a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping mall, in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

     G7 vows to keep pressure on Russia after missiles strike Ukraine shopping mall

    Russian missiles struck a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, as Moscow fought for control of a key eastern city and Western leaders promised to support Kyiv in the war "as long as it takes". More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles slammed into the mall in the city of Kremenchuk, southeast of Kyiv, Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram. He said the death count could rise.

  • File photo of former President Donald Trump.

    Company buying Trump's social media app faces subpoenas

    The company planning to buy Donald Trump's new social media business has disclosed a federal grand jury investigation that it says could impede or even prevent its acquisition of the Truth Social app. Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. dropped almost 10% Monday as the company revealed that it has received subpoenas from a grand jury in New York. The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, June 28, 2022