These past couple of weeks, many cities in the world have hosted Pride parades to celebrate the achievements of LGBT cultures and communities. Being in London on Saturday 25 June myself, it was great to see the LGBT community and the public come together in support for equal rights, dignity, and the end of discrimination and violence against LGBTs around the world. It was great to see each and everyone at the parade to feel so free and at liberty to be themselves regardless of sexuality, gender, races, and colour. Being a Canadian myself, it was great to hear that Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, attend the Pride parade in Toronto on Sunday 3 July. I believe it was the first time ever for a world leader to have participated in the Pride parade. In a recent interview on Daily Xtra, Trudeau emphasis Canada’s important role in promoting awareness of LGBT rights around the world.
While great leaps have been achieved for LGBT rights in certain parts of the world, the recent events of the Orlando shooting of LGBT people demonstrates that the persecution of LGBTs continues to exist no matter if you are living in a country where homosexuality is legalized or criminalized. The Orlando shooting also showed that the discrimination and violence against LGBTs was not just a domestic matter but an ongoing global and universal concern. As of May 2016, 73 countries in the world still have laws criminalizing homosexuality. Out of the 53 Commonwealth countries, 40 Commonwealth countries criminalizes homosexual behaviours. I think it is important to reflect on this year’s Commonwealth Day Service message of “An Inclusive Commonwealth. While it is important to strive for equal rights and dignity for LGBTs across the world legally, it is also crucial to create a world where countries, societies, and communities accept LGBTs into the social norm.
The message of inclusion from this year Commonwealth Day Service reflects how we should aim for a world where people understand and respect one another regardless of their background, races, colour, sexuality, and gender. As to LGBTs around the world, it is important to create an inclusive environment around the world where countries, societies, and communities accept, understand, and respect who they are as individuals. It is important to promote social awareness, understanding, and education at all levels of societies, communities, and countries to break those barriers and create a cohesive world of inclusion of LGBTs.
On an international level, the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) plays a crucial role for LGBTs around the world. The youth are the most open minded, progressive, forward thinking, and globalized age group in the world. The fact is youth will be the inheritors of the world of tomorrow. It is important for youth of today to secure a better, brighter, and more inclusive future for a world of tomorrow. I think the CYC is the perfect organization to do just that. The CYC is a body made up of Commonwealth youth that represents the youth voices within the Commonwealth. The CYC has a truly inclusive membership body where any young individuals from a representative and democratic youth-led organizations can become a member regardless of their races, ethnicity, colour, class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, language, religious or political beliefs.
The CYC is leading the mapping of LGBT organizations with young demographic. As a member of the Membership Committee I think it is crucial to get more young individuals from LGBT backgrounds to join and get involve with the CYC. One of the great things about the CYC is that it is one of the few international organizations in the world that offers young people a voice in the world. It also has a very inclusive membership base where all youth are welcome to join. For young individuals from LGBT backgrounds, the CYC will be a great place for them to represent their voices internationally as it is only one of the few international organizations in the world that recognizes and accepts equal rights for LGBTs. The CYC also welcomes youth from any LGBT backgrounds so we can create a better understanding and respect for LGBTs in a global community. As I said before, youth are the inheritors of the world of tomorrow. The CYC can act as a blueprint to help youth from LGBT backgrounds to create a better world for tomorrow where LGBTs are accepted universally as equal individuals.
If any young Commonwealth citizens (age 15 to 29) who have LGBT experiences or backgrounds would like to join the Commonwealth Youth Council membership please visit:
By: Jackie Yu Hon Lam