Title: The Commonwealth Games' parade of prejudice Credit: Doreen Agassiz-Suddens Comment Thursday 16th March 2006 - 12:00pm1142463600 Article: 1157 Rights
A flying tram at the Games' Opening Ceremony THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY! How many gays and lesbians were charmed by the fireworks and spectacle of the opening of the Commonwealth games in Melbourne on Wednesday night? As country after country entered the stadium to riotous applause, watched by the Queen, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, other dignitaries, and billions of viewers world-wide, they were contributing to promoting the allusion that we are all united by sport, the Commonwealth, and humanity. But beneath the glitz, and the emotional excitement of the night, an unpleasant reality was hidden, the reality of the lives of gays and lesbians in many of the countries taking part in the celebrations. At random I have picked six Commonwealth countries where equality and rights are lacking for same-sex loving people, but of course there are other countries in the Commonwealth besides these six who have denied gays and lesbians a fair deal in society. The information used in this article can be found on the international gay and lesbian website: . Starting in no particular order is Singapore, where recently the government gave $100,000 to a Christian-linked anti-gay group, the Liberty League, whose founder 'has long been known to be associated with "ex-gay" ministries'. Singapore also prohibits sexual relations between consenting adult men. Pakistan prohibits homosexual relations between consenting adults in private, both male and female. In a United Nations article posted on the ILGA website it was stated that: 'with denial as their constant companion, gay Pakistanis live in constant fear of being 'outed' in this staunchly conservative society which is largely ignorant and intolerant of sexual minorities'. In some parts of Nigeria a person convicted for consenting adult homosexual relations may be subject to the death penalty. This country also initiated a bill to stop same-sex relationships and marriage, and the information minister has said that 'LGBT orientation is alien to Nigeria', implying that it was 'imported from the west'. Gay groups have been concerned by the 'continuing discrimination against and marginalization of the homosexual minority in Cameroon'. Homosexuality is crime in Cameroon punishable by five years in prison. And Uganda prohibits sexual relations between consenting adult males. There are many other Commonwealth countries who marched in the happy little opening parade who deny gays and lesbians a full life in their countries including: Antigua and Barbuda; and Barbados; and Trinidad and Tobago; and so the list goes on. It is important for us as gays and lesbians to look beyond and underneath the tinsel of celebration, and to glimpse the truth. As straight play-write Harold Pinter said, in a speech which was directed at people in general, when he received the Noble Prize for literature: 'I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory'. Doreen Agassiz-Suddens - 16th March 2006    
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