Queen Elizabeth 'Stands Up' for Gay Rights Without Mentioning Them

While Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is being hailed as a progressive leader for signing a new Commonwealth charter that opposes discrimination based on gender, LGBT activists note that the monarch has never actually uttered the words 'gay' or 'lesbian.'

BY Sunnivie Brydum

March 11 2013 4:54 PM ET

Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday backed a new commonwealth charter for the United Kingdom, which some are saying indicated the monarch's support for LGBT equality. But as Zack Ford at ThinkProgress LGBT points out, the queen didn't actually use the words "gay" or "lesbian" in her much-touted commitment to civil rights and gender equality. 

"We are implacably opposed to all form of discrimination," the charter reads. "Whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."

The reference to 'other grounds' is intended to refer to sexual orientation, writes Ford, but was kept ambiguous because more than 41 countries of the 54 within the commonwealth still criminalize homosexuality. Many of those African nations in the commonwealth have staunchly antigay climates originally fostered by British colonial rule, reports LGBT blog Pam's House Blend

Prominent U.K. LGBT activist Peter Tatchell similarly points out that the Queen has apparently never publicly acknowledged the LGBT community. 

"Astonishingly, since she became Queen in 1952, the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ have never publicly passed her lips. There is no record of her ever speaking them," said Tatchell in a statement. "Even when she announced government plans for gay law reform in her Queen’s Speeches, she did not use the words lesbian or gay. Apparently, mentioning LGBT people is beneath the dignity of the monarch."

U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail hailed the queen's signature on the new charter as "one of the most controversial acts of her reign."

But columnist Patrick Strudwick at The Guardian also chastised the monarch for her silence about LGBT people. Strudwick half-heartedly accepts the Mail's premise that the charter is, in fact, alluding to gay and lesbian people, but refuses to accept the monarchy's continued blissful ignorance. 

"This charter isn't a fight for gay rights, it's a vague whisper muffled by the screams of gay people awaiting the noose," writes Strudwick. "By refraining from using the word gay or gay rights, the head of the Commonwealth will in fact silence opponents of equality! I will not celebrate silence. I will not join those cheering this supposed historic nod in our direction. Gay people of the Commonwealth deserve more than an inference; they need its head to speak of them and to them, to protect them."

Tags: Politics

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