The Commonwealth of Nations dates back to the first part of the 20th century and is an association of member states, almost all of which are formerly part of the British Empire. During decolonisation, member territories increased self-governance but most Commonwealth countries still have in common the use of the English language and a shared historical past. Former French colonies Gabon and Togo joined the Commonwealth in June of this year but will not be competing in the 2022 Games.

Of great importance to LGBTQ+ people across the Commonwealth is the adoption of homophobic laws imported from Britain during colonisation which, in many cases, remain in effect. Even in countries where legislation has shifted, the impact of colonisation on the culture of and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people cannot be overstated.

This exhibition explores the social, cultural, and legal position of LGBTQ+ people across the Commonwealth in 2022. We compare human rights markers such as whether same-sex sexual relations are criminalised, whether LGBTQ+ people have the right to marry, adopt, serve in the military, or change their legal gender, and whether there are anti-discrimination laws in place to protect against discrimination and violence. Further, we’ve tried to situate the current sociopolitical situation in a historic context while highlighting any recent developments.

This presentation is not comprehensive. There are 56 member states in the Commonwealth; 72 teams, which include some territories that represent themselves under their own flag, will compete in the Games. What we’ve attempted here is an overview, both at the country and regional levels, of the current state of affairs for LGBTQ+ people across the Commonwealth while acknowledging the historic events and political forces that got us here.

Our aim is to share this knowledge and contribute to the dismantling of the ideas that homophobia or transphobia are “natural”, and that people should enjoy fewer human rights and protection based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. We recognise the importance of sport and major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games in bringing attention to sociocultural issues and hope that this exhibition and initiatives like Pride House Birmingham will help create positive change for LGBTQ+ people across the Commonwealth.

Click on the continents below to view details on each country

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