Wednesday , 22 May 2019

LGBTI rights highlighted in Commonwealth Games opening ceremony with a gay kiss

John Barrowman's gay kiss at the Commonwealth Games Ceremony
John Barrowman’s gay kiss at the Commonwealth Games Ceremony

Out actor and musician John Barrowman embraced a male dancer, giving him a kiss during the Wednesday’s opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

The Glasgow born celebrity and Doctor Who star kissed the dancer at a mock “Gretna Green” during ceremony, with an announcement was made: “Here’s for Equality in Scotland!” at Celtic Park, Glasgow, last night.

The gay kiss was hailed as an important act highlighting anti-LGBTI legislation and sentiments in most of the Commonwealth countries.

Speaking with KaleidoScot, Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “Last night around a billion people across the Commonwealth will have watched as Scotland proudly put openly LGBT presenters and a same-sex kiss centre-stage at the opening ceremony of the Games.

“About 900 million of those will live in the 42 Commonwealth states that continue to criminalise same-sex relationships and deny LGBTI people their human rights. This was a positive and important statement that needed to be made. We hope that governments and the Commonwealth Secretariat will pay attention, listen to the voices of LGBTI people across the Commonwealth, and make use of friendly relations with fellow Commonwealth states to pursue LGBTI human rights through diplomacy.

A Scottish Government spokesperson told KaleidoScot: “The Games provide a great opportunity for Scotland to share good practice with other countries to promote discussion and positively influence change on these issues.

“This Government is clear that we condemn human rights abuses wherever they occur, and we expect states to abide by international human rights obligations. We are a progressive nation in terms of LGBTI equality, and are showing clear leadership by investing £25,000 in establishing a Pride House during the games, which was officially opened today by Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games Shona Robison.”

Patrick Harvie, Co-Convener of the Scottish Green party went further, telling KaleidoScot: “Its necessary to condemn homophobia and transphobia in the Commonwealth countries and beyond, but it is not enough.

“If we are really serious about seeing progress in these countries is support, team-up and work with for a long term basis with local LGBTI activists.

“Their movement is not about pensions and marriage equality but a matter of life and death, in much the same way it was in this country in the 50s and 60s.

“We need to meet the local activists on their terms, not in order to ‘teach’ them but learn what their needs are in their contexts.”

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont told KaleidoScot: “The opening ceremony was a terrific way to kick off the games and John Barrowman’s kiss has provided us with the first memorable moment.

“Sporting events like this are about countries coming together and celebrating the common values that unite us but it can also highlight our differences and we recognise that not every culture is as inclusive and intolerant of prejudice as Scotland.

“This is something Scottish Labour would like to change and I commend the campaigners who are taking this opportunity to get LGBT rights to the top of the political agenda.

“The campaign for equality has a proud record of bringing about change and I am optimistic that we can achieve our ambitions for a more tolerant, fairer world. Hopefully these games will be another step in that direction and be part of Glasgow 2014’s legacy.”

In a statement, Games CEO David Grevemberg confirmed the event was scripted, saying that Grethna Green is about people “coming together” as well as “getting married, and that was something reflected throughout. But yes, it was scripted. It’s all about love.”

“In keeping with humanity, equality… also with a bit of Scottish welcoming flair to showcase a speed-date of Scotland very quickly. This was something that we felt accentuated the values of Scotland and the diversity of Scotland. It’s something we felt strongly about in showcasing everything that’s on offer.

While the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said: “There should be no discrimination on any grounds whatsoever. I thought the whole thing was a fantastic show.”

Earlier this week human rights activists from around the Commonwealth have called for action on homophobia in the Commonwealth, while Peter Tatchell has directly called upon the First Minister to condemn it.

Same-sex acts are currently punishable with prison sentences in 42 out of the 53 Commonwealth nations. KaleidoScot will be running a series of articles highlighting these issues throughout the duration of the games.

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg have highlighted the plight of LGBTI people in the Commonwealth nations.

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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