LONDON, March 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A claim made this weekend by the Daily Mail that Queen Elizabeth II will endorse “gay rights” and “gender equality” is being disputed today by both homosexualist campaigners and the Mail’s own editorial staff. An article in the Mail claimed, under the headline “Queen fights for gay rights,” that a charter of “values” for the 54 nations of the Commonwealth includes wording that is “being seen as including sexuality”.
The Queen was set to attend a ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day, during which she was to sign the charter that sets out “core values” for all leaders of Commonwealth nations. The charter says, “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.” It is these unspecified “other grounds” that the Mail is claiming means “gay rights”.
Today, however, doubt is growing that this could have been the Queen’s intention as Buckingham Palace announced that she would not be attending the ceremony for “health reasons”. The Queen was in hospital last week for 24 hours due to a bout of gastroenteritis and is said to still be recovering. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh will attend the ceremony in her stead and Queen Elizabeth will sign the document privately at a reception.
The statement from the palace said that the monarch is merely carrying out her normal duties: “The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is in all matters of this sort.” She is “signing the document in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth.”
The Mail quoted a portion of the Queen’s prepared comments, in which she was to say, “Our shared values of peace, democracy, development, justice and human rights – which are found in our new Commonwealth Charter – mean that we place special emphasis on including everyone in this goal, especially those who are vulnerable.”
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As of today, the Mail, quoting only “insiders,” was still claiming that Queen Elizabeth was promoting a document intended to “to stamp out discrimination against homosexual people and promote the ‘empowerment’ of women” as part of “a new drive to boost human rights and living standards across the Commonwealth”. The endorsement was to be “one of the most controversial acts of her reign,” the Mail said.
The Mail quoted “sources close to the Royal Household” saying “she is aware of the implications of the charter’s implicit support of gay rights and commitment to gender equality.”
The Mail quoted another unnamed “diplomatic source” saying, “The impact of this statement on gay and women’s rights should not be underestimated. Nothing this progressive has ever been approved by the United Nations. And it is most unusual for the Queen to request to sign documents in public, never mind call the cameras in.”
The charter’s wording on “gender rights” says, “We recognise that gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights. The advancement of women’s rights and the education of girls are critical preconditions for effective and sustainable development.”
In a statement to the Mail, Ben Summerskill, head of the country’s leading homosexualist lobby group, backed the claim, saying, “This is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six per cent of her subjects who are gay.”
But one of Britain’s leading independent homosexualist campaigners, Peter Tatchell, has pointed out that the actual wording of the charter includes no reference to homosexuality, or any of the usual language found in laws referring to “sexual orientation”.
Tatchell called the charter “an important document” and a “step forward for human rights,” but said, “it does not include any explicit commitment to gay rights”.
“There’s still much more to be done in terms of gay rights,” he told the Mail. “Forty-one out of 54 Commonwealth states still criminalise homosexuality. I think the homophobic majority of the Commonwealth states vetoed protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
Tatchell told the Independent that while he doubts that Elizabeth II “is a raging homophobe,” she has never appeared to be “gay-friendly”.
“Not once during her reign has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community,” Tatchell said. “While she has spoken approvingly of the U.K.’s many races and faiths, for six decades she has ignored LGBT Britons.”
The Mail’s claim was immediately followed by news outlets around the world who ran headlines like that of the Daily Telegraph: “Queen to sign new charter backing gay rights.” The Sun went so far as to call the document an “historic gay rights charter”.
Today Tatchell’s comments were followed by those of Mail columnist Peter McKay, who said that in the Queen’s public acts, like her Speech to Parliament, her positions are dictated by political powers, not by her own personal opinions which she is always careful to conceal.
“We never make the mistake of thinking the Queen is personally attached to any of the policies she describes in Parliament,” McKay wrote. “Why imagine it’s different with the Commonwealth? There must surely be occasions when she thinks ill of the policies her government has asked her to outline. But I can’t think of a single occasion when her mask has slipped.”
Most of the Commonwealth nations are in Africa and Asia where public sentiment, particularly in strongly Islamic regions, continues to be strongly against acceptance of homosexuality. McKay pointed out that as the head of the Commonwealth, whatever her personal feelings, Queen Elizabeth would not risk reducing her influence and the authority of her position by endorsing a cause that is a favourite political fad only in a handful of Commonwealth countries.
Tim Marshall, Foreign Affairs Editor for Sky News, wrote that the wording of the charter is deliberately vague to allow it to be accepted by the majority of Commonwealth countries that still have “homophobic laws”. It “could be regarded as a step forward for those who believe in equality for gay people, or it could be seen as a sop allowing homophobic governments a fig leaf to continue repressive practices.”