Queen Elizabeth Upsets Gay Activists With New “Magna Carter” Charter
I don’t have a lot in common with Queen Elizabeth except we both wear sensible shoes, were raised in the Anglican Church (Episcopal), and come from English stock. I admire her resiliency in a family rife with divorce, affairs, commoners (gasp!) and a grandson who likes to play pool in the buff.
Watershed Moment for Her
This week, Her Majesty the Queen signed the Commonwealth Charter designed to stamp out discrimination against homosexuals and promote ‘empowerment’ of women in a drive to boost human rights. The document includes affirmations on democracy, human rights, international peace, and security as well as freedom of expression. Atypical for the Queen, who has reigned since 1952, she signed the charter in public in a live television broadcast.
This was a big deal for the Queen, now 86. She made a speech that the signatories opposed “all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds." According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, the “other grounds” in the charter is intended to refer to sexuality.
The Other Grounds Are Grounds for the Gay Activists to Retort
The Other Grounds”may be intended to refer to sexual orientation, but was left ambiguous as the Queen, a figurehead, is supposed to be apolitical. Within the Commonwealth, there are more than fifty-four countries, of which forty-one criminalize homosexuality, many are in Africa.
In her speech, the Queen never used the word “gay” or “lesbian”, but according to U.K. LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, she never used those words, even when she announced government plans for gay law reform in her Queen’s Speeches.
Columnist Patrick Strudwick at The Guardian echoed Tatchell’s sentiments: “Gay people of the Commonwealth deserve more than an inference; they need its head to speak of them and to them, to protect them.”
Not all gay activists are upset that the charter includes no explicit pledge of LGBT equality. Ben Summerskill, the Executive Director of the British LGBT rights organization, Stonewall UK, remarked that “it would be foolish not to acknowledge this may be a first step towards equality in some Commonwealth countries. We would of course be much happier if the terms would be addressed and discussed openly. But if addressing them obliquely is a first step, we should be happy about that.”
This is the first time that the Queen has publicly acknowledged the importance of the six percent of her subjects who are gay.”
I agree with Summerskill. It’s a beginning.
Let’s Not Behead the Queen
Did Bill Clinton see in 1996 that marriage could be for a same-sex couple? No, but he has evolved and recently urged the Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Did President Obama in his first term come out for gay marriage? No, he evolved also, but not until 2012. Maybe, just maybe, Queen Elizabeth II will evolve. In the interim, let’s not “stare a gift horse in the mouth.”