To mark Commonwealth Day 2022, The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN) would like to express its pride in and admiration of the work undertaken by its members over the past two years. Although LGBTI persons across the Commonwealth faced discrimination, violence and persecution before Covid-19, both the pandemic and measures put in place to address it exacerbated existing inequalities, magnifying the vulnerabilities of our members and the communities they work to support even more.
We’d like to commend our members for their daily pursuit of equality and safety for LGBTI persons across the Commonwealth. We’d also like to acknowledge the solidarity, support and guidance members have extended to each other over an exceedingly difficult period. The ongoing fight for LGBTI human rights is of such importance that even under immense uncertainty and duress, our members continued to press forward. We are grateful to The Network’s funders, whose ongoing support has helped drive legal, policy and societal changes across the globe.
Movements and networks to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons are fuelled by the energy, passion and determination of human beings. In some countries in the Commonwealth, there is only one or a handful of organisations dedicated to the protection of LGBTI human rights. Many of our members are poorly-funded, their staff stretched thin and their futures uncertain. TCEN’s own future depends on the wellbeing and futures of its membership.
The innovation, connection and transformation civil society organisations make possible must be met with the same from governments and international funding bodies. Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in June, TCEN calls on governments to reaffirm their commitment to human rights, equality, tolerance and protection of the vulnerable, and to agree to tangible, measurable and accountable support of LGBTI persons and LGBTI civil society organisations in their countries as we continue to recover from the impacts of Covid-19 and other shocks.
If we are to deliver a common future, we must bring everyone in the Commonwealth along. Civil society organisations – and the people who make them effective – are vital to protecting and advancing LGBTI human rights, and no common future can be delivered without them.