We are a global community of civil society organisations working to uphold the human rights of LGBTI+ people across the Commonwealth.

Photo of TCEN members


Established in 2013, The Commonwealth Equality Network – or TCEN – is a network of organisations challenging inequality based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. The Network was set up to give a global voice to LGBTI+ communities across the Commonwealth and to support joint advocacy to provide an answer to the colonial legacy of homophobia – a Commonwealth solution to a Commonwealth problem.

We work to ensure the human rights of LGBTI+ people are protected and promoted in line with international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Much like the Commonwealth itself, the membership of the Network is mostly made up of organisations in low- and middle-income countries. The spread of members – many of them in existence for more than ten years – shows a widespread and longstanding constituency of support for LGBTI+ rights within the Commonwealth, and demonstrates the importance of civil society in leading the way on challenging homophobia and transphobia.

The foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies depend upon equality and respect for all. We are committed to ensuring the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds.

Alongside our advocacy, campaigning and grassroots organising, TCEN promotes understanding and goodwill between all the peoples of the Commonwealth.

LGBTI+ Protesters


Across the Commonwealth, TCEN has made demonstrable impact in the lives of LGBTI+ people. From rapid responses to crises to legal reform to changing hearts and minds, our work uplifts, empowers and supports those most in need.


Through collective advocacy, research, resource mobilisation and capacity strengthening, we seek to advance the protection, promotion and fulfilment of the human rights of all LGBTI+ people in the Commonwealth by:
Dismantling the systems that perpetuate discrimination and violence, including criminalisation

Advocating for the inclusion and full realisation of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights

– Empowering organisations, activists and communities to create greater awareness and understanding of the distinct and intersectional grounds of discrimination


We call on Commonwealth member states to:
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End criminalisation of LGBTI+ people by reviewing and repealing...
  • laws that directly criminalise consensual same-sex intimacy and expressions of gender identity
  • indirect laws used to harass, arbitrarily detain, persecute and discriminate against LGBTI+ people, such as vagrancy and impersonation laws
  • indirect laws that criminalise LGBTI+ people in their intersectionalities, for example women through the criminalisation of abortion or consent laws on forced marriage that defer to customary laws.
Enshrine non-discrimination by...
  • embedding anti-discrimination in constitutions through the inclusion of broad non-discrimination and/or the creation of specific protections on the basis of sex/gender, and/or creation of explicit protections on the grounds of SOGIESC
  • introducing anti-discrimination in sector-specific regulations, such as through enshrining anti-discrimination in labour codes, employment acts, and housing policies
  • ensuring LGBTI+ people have equal access to services in practice, such as enabling the legal recognition of transgender people to be achieved via simple administrative processes without abusive requirements.
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Safeguard freedoms, choice, and access to justice by...
  • creating substantive hate crime laws to protect LGBTI+ people
  • safeguarding freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, particularly for human rights defenders
  • allowing LGBTI+ human rights organisations to register.
Ensure institutional affirmation for LGBTI+ people by...
  • removing barriers to LGBTI+ people participating in public and political life, and actively re-integrating them into spaces where they have been excluded (e.g., covering costs of education materials, adopting affirmative action policies)
  • providing or facilitating training for public officials, the private sector and the media on issues specific to LGBTI+ people
  • recognising the unique needs of LGBTI+ people by tailoring services, such as in healthcare (including mental health) and by ensuring inclusive education (including sex education).


Major decisions about the Network are agreed by the membership on a consensus basis, while an elected Management Committee sees to the Network’s day-to-day governance.

Chair – Steve Letsike (Access Chapter 2, South Africa)

Vice-chair – Joleen Mataele (Tonga Leitis Association, Tonga)

Secretary – Phyll Opoku-Gyimah (Kaleidoscope Trust, United Kingdom)

Treasurer – Linda Baumann (NDWA, Namibia)

Regional Representative Africa – Yvee Oduor (GALCK, Kenya)

Regional Representative Americas – Glenroy Murray (J-FLAG, Jamaica)

Regional Representative AsiaShale Ahmed (Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Bangladesh)

Regional Representative Europe – vacant

Regional Representative Pacific  – Isikeli Vulavou (Rainbow Pride Foundation, Fiji)

The Network is administered by a Secretariat based at Kaleidoscope Trust in London, UK.


Our network is a mosaic of organisations working together for a Commonwealth free from violence and discrimination against LGBTI+ people.