It is a pleasure to be here. I congratulate Thangam Debbonaire on securing this important debate. She is always a passionate advocate for equal rights, and I pay tribute to her commitment on the issue. I am also grateful for the widespread interest and the insights of other hon. Members.
To begin, I think it is worth reiterating what I said in my statement only six days ago. The Government
“oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and in all forms, and we do not believe that amputation or stoning are legitimate or acceptable punishments. Indeed, we consider them to be illegal under international human rights laws relating to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.”
“consider it appalling that, in the 21st century, people anywhere are still facing potential persecution and discrimination because of who they are and whom they love.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 657, c. 1274.]
As a number of hon. Members have pointed out, human rights are universal and should apply equally to everyone.
LGBT people are not asking for special rights; they simply expect to be accorded the same dignity, respect and rights as all other citizens. That is why the UK strongly supports, defends and champions the rights of LGBT people here in the UK and all around the world, and opposes the criminalisation of homosexual relationships worldwide, whether in Brunei or elsewhere. As has been pointed out, there are still some 70 countries worldwide that discriminate against any person based on their sexuality, and we continue to encourage all those countries to repeal their laws. There has been some progress since 2015, with five countries decriminalising homosexual relationships, but we all accept that there is more still to do.