July 2017 marked 50 years since The Sexual Offences Act (1967), which went some way to decriminalise same sex relations in the UK. However, human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity are still under threat in many parts of the world due to Britain’s historical influence.
72 countries and states worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex relations, 36 of these – more than half – are in the Commonwealth of Nations.
Discrimination against LGBTQI+ citizens has been described as a ‘Commonwealth problem’. In part due to the legacy of laws created by the British Empire which criminalised LGBTQI+ relations or identities in some way. In recent years many Commonwealth states have increased enforcement of colonial laws against men, introduced new criminal legislation of sex between women and very few Commonwealth countries recognise the gender identity of trans people or protects their rights. One trend in legislative developments seeks to further restrict freedom of expression by criminalising the promotion of LGBTQI+ rights.
This situation has polarised many Commonwealth countries between those in favour of improving LGBTQI+ rights and those who continue to criminalise such relations and identities. These challenging socio-political contexts make the Commonwealth an important framework in which to understand and challenge violations of LGBTQI+ rights.
In partnership with The Kaleidoscope Trust, international students, global advocates, charity leaders, academics and policy influencers will come together to discuss progress on LGBTQI+ rights in the Commonwealth. The conference ‘Freedom & Sexuality: LGBTQI+ rights in the Commonwealth’ aims to give a voice to LGBTI+ communities across the Commonwealth and to support joint advocacy in identifying a Commonwealth solution to a Commonwealth problem.
Cumberland Lodge will convene a two day residential conference focusing on LGBTQI+ rights for 40 international students studying in the UK, who have demonstrated their potential as emerging leaders. This event will also bring together established advocates and representatives from NGOs and policy makers.
The core feature of this event will be to give participants the chance to influence policy concerning how to tackle the issue of LGBTQI+ rights. The Kaleidoscope Trust will use the findings of this project as one strand of their engagement with the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHoGM).
More broadly, we aim to support the understanding of the nature of prejudice against LGBTQI+ persons in different parts of the world. Participants will form an in-depth understanding of the importance of global LGBTQI+ rights, and will be empowered to become advocates of human rights in their universities and home countries.
- Two day residential conference which will and take place at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park from 26 - 27 February 2018. In order to be eligible you must be able to attend both days of the residential
- Applications are open to all international postgraduate students currently studying in the UK
- The conference will include lectures, workshops, and peer-to-peer learning with a focus on LGBTQI+ rights in the Commonwealth
- 40 high-potential student candidates are selected and supported in gaining an in-depth understanding of the importance of LGBTQI+ rights in relation to freedom & sexuality
- The conference will bring together students with emerging leadership skills and established representatives from advocacy groups, NGOs, and policy makers.
- All food and accommodation throughout the conference will be provided for free. Please note accommodation will be shared occupancy. You will only be asked to share accomodation with someone of the same sex.
- There will be a travel support bursary for all students
The application form for this programme can be downloaded from this webpage. The closing date for applications is 5pm 23 January 2018. If you have any questions please contact: Hannah Breeze firstname.lastname@example.org. Candidates will be notified if they have been successful by 31 January 2018.
Our 2017/18 series explores ‘Freedom’ and its place in peaceful, open and inclusive societies. What causes people to exploit, discriminate against and curtail the freedom of others? How can we safeguard the rights of people everywhere to express who they are and what they believe?
We approach ‘Freedom’ from a range of contemporary perspectives, through a diverse programme of inter-disciplinary conferences, lectures.
About the Kaleidoscope Trust
Kaleidoscope Trust is the UK's leading international LGBT+ rights charity. Since 2011, Kaleidoscope Trust been working with British and international institutions and partners to support LGBT+ activists to bring about legislative and social change and create a free and equal world for LGBT+ people everywhere. It is currently Chair of the UK Alliance for Global Equality and hosts the Secretariat of The Commonwealth Equality Network.