Tuesday, May 24, 2022

UK’s Diplomatic Network steps up efforts on LGBT+ Rights

This year the UK will host the first ever Safe to be Me: A Global Equality Conference to promote international action to drive improvements in LGBT+ rights around the world.

The Safe To Be Me Conference – taking place in London from 29 June to 1 July – will champion the fundamental principle that everyone, everywhere, should be free to love who they love and express themselves without fear of violence. It will advance the recognition of LGBT+ rights as fundamental human rights and continue to push for efforts globally, including in the UK and in Botswana, to ensure LGBT+ people feel safe and are treated equally throughout society.

The forum will provide an opportunity for governments, grassroots activists, and civil society from around the globe to work together to make the case for equality and agree on a new agenda for action, with a focus on delivering positive international action across four key themes:

  • Tackling violence and discrimination by bringing communities and leaders together to agree on new plans and how to target funding to apply these globally.
  • Advancing decriminalisation and legal protections by accelerating progress on legislative reform and creating the conditions for greater equality.
  • Ensuring inclusive access to public services by enabling delegates to share lessons and make commitments on key issues, such as access to healthcare and HIV/AIDS programmes.
  • Make the business and economic case for equality by identifying best practice, strengthening advocacy and supporting businesses to take up the mantle of change, including ensuring international standards on LGBT+ inclusive practices are upheld.

Ahead of this conference, UK diplomatic missions around the world, including the British High Commission in Gaborone, will be working with the LGBT+ community and allies to explore how they can support work to accelerate progress and help create better conditions for greater equality and freedoms for LGBT+ people. Over the next weeks we will showcase, through a global digital campaign, local voices who are working to support and champion LGBT+ rights and freedoms.

In Botswana, the recent decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations has put the country on a progressive path to creating inclusive rights, in particular by helping ensure a safe environment for the LGBT+ community. The Government of Botswana has committed to enhance inclusion across the board, and we look forward to working with them and local civil society groups to introduce more comprehensive and holistic equalities legislation that advances and protects the rights of all people from discrimination and violence.

Background on the Safe to be Me Conference

The UK will host its first ever global LGBT Conference in London on 29 June-01 July 2022, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride marches. Countries across the world are invited to the conference, which will be the largest event of its kind and will focus on making progressive legislative reform, tacking violence and discrimination, and ensuring equal access to public services for the LGBT community.

The Conference will take up a hybrid format, with some delegates attending in person, and others virtually. The Conference Chair, Nick Hebert has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the UK’s special envoy on LGBT+ rights. Appointed in 2021, Lord Hebert will promote the conference and champion LGBT equality in the UK and abroad.

In 71 jurisdictions around the world consensual same-sex acts are still illegal. 35 of these are in the Commonwealth. In 11 countries homosexuality is punishable by death.

The UK already delivers a range of global projects to defend the human rights of LGBT+ people, with programmes that tackle discrimination and hate crime running across Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Most recently, this included work to evacuate LGBT+ people from Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban.

This year UK diplomats will be redoubling their efforts to support LGBT+ rights in international fora such as the Equal Rights Coalition, the European LGBTI Focal Points Network, and the UN LGBTI Core Group, and on a local level in their host countries.

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