At a meeting next week, Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd will call for an end to laws criminalizing homosexuality in all 54 nations of the British Commonwealth.
Commonwealth officials will gather next week in Perth, Australia. Rudd says he will use that opportunity to pressure countries to end their bans on same-sex acts. The foreign minister believes such bans contribute to high rates of HIV and other serious problems.
"Australia is a global advocate of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," Rudd's spokeswoman said, according to the Star Observer. "The levels of HIV infection in Commonwealth countries are double the levels in non-Commonwealth countries."
Of the 54 Commonwealth nations, many which operated as British colonies at one time, 41 currently have laws criminalizing homosexuality. Gay rights leader Peter Tatchell hailed Rudd's attempts to end the bans, seeing it as a positive step. When Uganda -- a Commonwealth nation -- was pushing forth legislation in 2009 that could have sentenced certain gay people to death, Australia stood silent, according to the Star Observer. Read more here.