Date range
26 February 2018, 10:00am to 27 February 2018, 4:00pm
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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.

On 26-27 February,  international students, global advocates, charity leaders, academics and policy influencers from across the UK will meet at Cumberland Lodge to discuss progress on LGBTQI+ rights in the Commonwealth, at the 'Freedom & Sexuality: LGBTQI+ Rights in the Commonwealth' conference, held in partnership with The Kaleidoscope Trust.


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.  Today, 72 countries and states worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex relations, and 36 of these – more than half – are in the Commonwealth of Nations.

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 has been 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.


‘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 and The Kaleidoscope Trust are convening 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, together with established advocates and representatives from NGOs and policy makers.

Participants will have the chance to influence policy around LGBTQI+ rights in the Commonwealth. Later this year, The Kaleidoscope Trust will use the findings of this project as part of its engagement with the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHoGM).

More broadly, we aim to support a greater understanding of the nature of prejudice against LGBTQI+ persons in different parts of the world. Participants will leave with an appreciation of the importance of global LGBTQI+ rights, and will be empowered to become advocates of human rights in their universities and home countries.

Key information

This residential conference which will and take place at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park. 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.

Forty 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

Meals and accommodation will be provided from our charitable funds. Please note that accommodation is on a shared occupancy basis. Delegates will only be asked to share accomodation with someone of the same sex.

We are also pleased to be able to offer a travel support bursary for all student participants.

Freedom series

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

The 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.

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