U.K. Queen Elizabeth II is supposed to sign on Monday the Commonwealth Charter, a document some have determined to encompass a nod to gay rights.
Heads of government adopted the Commonwealth Charter last Dec. 14, according to the organization. The document lays out the core values of its 54 member states, NPR reported. There’s a specific line in the charter that many people around the world have been talking about because the act of signing the document would mark the first time in the queen’s 61-year reign that she has openly supported gay rights.
The charter -- called a “21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta” by some, according to the Daily Mail -- declares, “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”
The phrase other grounds has been interpreted to mean sexuality, but the passage doesn’t specifically mention “gays and lesbians,” apparently to avoid offending Commonwealth countries with harsh anti-gay laws.
Sources close to Queen Elizabeth II say she is aware of the implicit support of gay rights and the commitment to gender equality within the document.
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“The impact of this statement on gay and women’s rights should not be underestimated,” a diplomatic source told the Daily Mail. “Nothing this progressive has ever been approved by the United Nations. And it is most unusual for the Queen to request to sign documents in public, never mind call the cameras in.”
British human-rights activist Peter Tatchell told the Independent that if the queen is choosing to support equality now, it contradicts her previous stance of inaction.
“While I doubt that Elizabeth II is a raging homophobe, she certainly doesn’t appear to be gay-friendly. Not once during her reign has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community," Tatchell said. “While she has spoken approvingly of the U.K.’s many races and faiths, for six decades she has ignored LGBT Britons. If she treated black and Asian Britons in the same way, she’d be denounced as a racist. Why the double standards?”