Shock for conservatives: Her Majesty’s signing of Commonwealth Charter will endorse gay rights

The Grumbles will be paying close attention to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. They might have to shift their somewhat conservative thinking on gay rights and succession to the throne once she has given them a steer.

She apparently has been limbering up to sign the Commonwealth Charter tomorrow in her first public appearance since leaving hospital after suffering from a stomach bug

According to a Mail on Sunday report (here), she will make an historic pledge to promote gay rights and ‘gender equality’ in one of the most controversial acts of her reign.

Insiders say her decision to highlight the event is a ‘watershed’ moment – the first time she has clearly signalled her support for gay rights in her 61-year reign.

The charter, dubbed a ‘21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta’ declares: ‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’

The ‘other grounds’ is intended to refer to sexuality – but specific reference to ‘gays and lesbians’ was omitted in deference to Commonwealth countries with draconian anti-gay laws.

Sources close to the Royal Household said she is aware of the implications of the charter’s implicit support of gay rights and commitment to gender equality.

In her speech, according to the Mail on Sunday, the Queen is expected to stress that the rights must ‘include everyone’.

This is seen as an implicit nod to the agenda of inclusivity, usually championed by the Left.

A diplomatic source added: ‘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.’

Insiders say her backing for full ‘gender equality’ and ‘women’s empowerment’ – using language until recently considered the preserve of Left-wing activists – is equally significant.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth.’ But he added: ‘The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is on all matters of this sort.’

The Mail on Sunday goes on to link this charter thing with the succession.

Although the charter is not connected with the accession issue, it is seen as a clear indication that she supports new laws designed to give equal Royal accession rights to boys and girls.

With the Duchess of Cambridge about five months’ pregnant, the change in the law could have a crucial effect. At present, if, as is rumoured, the Duchess and Prince William have a daughter, but go on to have a son, the son would become King when William dies. However, under the law change, due to be approved in the next few months, the girl would become Monarch.

The Queen has not expressed a view on the law change. However, well-placed sources confirmed that her approval of more women’s rights in the charter does reflect her support for equal rights of accession. This could bring her into conflict with Prince Charles, who has reportedly voiced doubts.

Royal aides have had discussions with Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who is reported to be backing the drive for better gay and women’s rights.

The Queen also has had talks with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who has led the initiative.

The charter’s Gender Rights vow 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.’

How this goes down in the Commonwealth will be fascinating to observe.

Homosexual acts are still illegal in 41 of the Commonwealth’s 54 nations.

The penalties can be stiff.

Death sentences are imposed in parts of Nigeria and Pakistan; 25 years jail in Trinidad and Tobago; 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia; and life imprisonment in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana.

Alf wonders how things were for gays back in the good old days when those countries were part of the British Empire.

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