International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 3:32 pm, 16th May 2019

I agree with every word the hon. Gentleman says. The UK can play an important role in that respect. The Prime Minister said the right things at CHOGM last year, but we must follow through with funding. The Minister will no doubt tell us about that and he supports action in this area. We must continue to encourage the Government to pursue this issue.

In Angola, a new penal code was adopted in January this year to replace the Portuguese legacy colonial penal code. It removed a “vices against nature” law that criminalised same-sex activity. New legislation adopts broad new legal protections, banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and employment, and offering services to LGBT people.

In March this year, the Kenyan Court of Appeal ruled that an LGBT non-governmental organisation could be registered, on the grounds that registration was constitutional and that forbidding its registration was unconstitutional because it contravened the freedom of association or assembly. That is a very important advance in a Commonwealth country. Similarly, a court ruling on decriminalisation is anticipated in Botswana next month.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the High Court ruled last month that the criminalisation of “buggery” was unconstitutional, as it contravened the law protecting human rights to privacy and expression. That could provide an important precedent for other Caribbean countries which share similar colonial laws.

In February this year, the Taiwanese Government introduced draft legislation to promote equal marriage. That followed the ruling by the constitutional court in 2017 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. It gave that Government two years to introduce legislation. A referendum rejected amending the civil code, but significantly the Government have gone ahead and introduced a new law anyway. It will be the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.

Chile, Portugal, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Uruguay have all made it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. Across the piece, these are encouraging advances but they make the reverses elsewhere seem even more stark.