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article imageQueen Elizabeth II expected to sign charter supporting gay rights

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 10, 2013 in World
London - Reports say that Queen Elizabeth II is set to sign a new Commonwealth Charter to stamp out discrimination against gays and promote gender equality. UK's Daily Mail reports that signing the charter will be one of the most controversial acts of her reign.
The Queen's endorsement of the Commonwealth Charter would be the first time in her 61-year reign that she has signaled support for gay rights. It has been described as a "watershed" moment in her reign.
The charter, dubbed a "21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta," reportedly says: "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds."
According to the Daily Mail, the "other grounds" in the statement is a reference to sexuality, specifically "gay and lesbian."
The veiled reference is reportedly in deference to Commonwealth countries where anti-gay sentiments and repressive laws rule.
Sources say that the Queen will make the historic pledge that stresses that rights must "include everyone" with full awareness of its implication as a policy that has been championed by the "Left." The source said that the Queen's decision to openly express support for gay rights "using language until recently the preserve of Left-wing activists," is significant.
The Daily Mail reports that a diplomatic source, said: "The impact of this statement on gay and women’s rights should not be underestimated. 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."
A Buckingham Palace spokesman reportedly said: "In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth. The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is on all matters of this sort."
According to the Daily Mail, the charter’s Gender Rights vow, says: "We recognize that gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights. The advancement of women’s rights and the education of girls are critical preconditions for effective and sustainable development."
The charter is seen as an indication that the Queen supports new laws to give equal accession rights to both sexes, although she has not expressed views on the matter openly. According to the Daily Mail, her views could clash with Prince Charles', who has reportedly not shown much enthusiasm for the change.
It is expected that the Queen will sign the document at London's Marlborough House, the Pall Mall HQ of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Queen Elizabeth has reportedly had talks with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who supports the initiative. Sharma said last month: "We oppose discrimination or stigmatization on any grounds."
The British Foreign Secretary William Hague also reportedly supports the move.
A gay rights activist Ben Summerskill, commenting on the development, said "The Palace has finally caught up with public opinion." He said: "This is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six per cent of her subjects who are gay. Some of the worst persecution of gay people in the world takes place in Commonwealth countries as a result of the British Empire."
However, Tory MP David Davies reportedly said: "I fail to see why the Queen needs to make a special statement on this country’s opposition to discrimination against gays and women. It is a statement of the blindingly obvious. My worry is the politically correct brigade will use it to silence legitimate debate about issues like gay marriage. One can’t help wondering what Prince Philip’s view would be."
Many observers will consider the Queen's move appropriate given that the homophobic excesses of governments of several Commonwealth nations are to a significant extent the legacy of the conservative values bequeathed by the British in the era of colonial rule. African countries such as Uganda with a majority Christian population may cite the legacy of religious and cultural indoctrination by the Church of England to justify their rampant homophobia.
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