Stonewall is delighted that the Charity Commission has approved a request to extend its strategic lobbying to include overseas work. For the very first time, the charity will be permitted to ‘promote human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent UN conventions throughout the world’.
‘We’re delighted at the Charity Commission’s decision,’ said Stonewall Chair David Isaac. ‘After our biennial supporters’ survey last year a number of supporters raised the importance of international work with us now that the legislative landscape in Britain is almost equalised. Having canvassed a wide sample of our supporters during the last 12 months and reviewed our obligations under charity law, we’re clear that our lobbying and research teams now have the opportunity to influence overseas without undermining the important work – such as our pioneering Education for All programme – to which we’re absolutely committed in Britain. We look forward to working with other groups seeking to deliver change internationally. As Stonewall will seek to influence from within the UK our focus will, we hope, complement the work of others.’
‘When we became a charity in 2003 there was an extensive outstanding legislative programme which we thought would take 10-15 years to secure,’ said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s Chief Executive. ’Having achieved almost all of those legal changes, we’re now in a stronger position to commend Britain’s legislative framework to other countries around the world. The dogged support of tens of thousands of individual donors means that we’re one of the few charities in the country whose income has continued to grow throughout the recession. That commitment means that involvement in overseas advocacy will not dilute any of our existing domestic activities; we retain our ambition to make Britain a worldwide beacon for equality.’
1) Homosexual acts remain illegal in 77 out of over 190 countries worldwide, more than half of which are members of the Commonwealth. In six countries it is punishable by death – Mauritania, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – as well as in parts of Nigeria and Somalia. Many countries which do not impose the death penalty sentence individuals to life imprisonment (e.g. Pakistan and Barbados) or hard labour (e.g. Angola and Mozambique).
Recent examples of states imposing (or trying to impose) new or tougher sentences on gay people include the 2010 ‘anti-homosexuality’ bill in Uganda proposing extension of the death penalty to a range of homosexual offences, and the extension of the Malawian penal code to cover female couples. A number of gay equality campaigners have been murdered, notably David Kato in Uganda in January 2011. Some regions and states have recently repealed homophobic parts of their penal codes, notably India and most South American states, however hate crimes and persecution remain commonplace. For example, it is estimated that over 250 lesbian and gay people were murdered in Brazil in 2010.
2. Stonewall’s 2010 No Going Back research into the experience of lesbian and gay asylum-seekers highlighted the range of persecution gay people overseas had experienced including beatings, attempted murder, abuse, sexual abuse, rape, being outed in public, arson and a range of other crimes. The perpetrators included members of the public, the police, family members and religious leaders.
3. Measures to equalise Britain’s legislative agenda campaigned for by Stonewall and secured since 2003 include:
Repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act
Aggravated sentencing for homophobic offences (Criminal Justice Act 2003)
Civil Partnership Act 2005
‘Goods and services’ protections against discrimination in the delivery of commercial and public services (2007)
Equalisation of Fertility and Embryology legislation (2008)
Offence of incitement to homophobic hatred (Criminal Justice Act 2008)
Introduction of a public duty to promote equality in the delivery of public services (Equality Act 2010)
Consequently Britain now has some of the strongest legislative protections in the world for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
4. Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme now provides advice and support to more than 600 major employers, with more than 5.5 million staff between them. It is the largest non-governmental intervention of its kind in the world. Stonewall’s Education for All programme, established in 2005 to help tackle homophobic bullying in schools, is supported by a coalition of 120 charities, professional organisations, unions and education authorities.
5. A special resolution formally to adopt Stonewall’s new charitable object will be considered at a meeting of the charity’s board on October 25
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