United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday said that she “deeply regrets” the laws against homosexuality that her country left behind in its former colonies. Such laws “were wrong then and they are wrong now”, May said at a meeting of the heads of government of Commonwealth nations.
Same-sex activity is still illegal in 36 of the 53 member nations of the Commonwealth, the group of former British colonies. The number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in these countries is estimated to be over 100 million. Nine of these countries, including India, have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for the offence. The UK itself abolished the law against same-sex relationships in 1967.
May urged the Commonwealth nations to overhaul the “outdated”, colonial-era laws, The Guardian reported. “Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love,” she told member nations. “As the UK’s prime minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to arrive at the four-day meeting late on Tuesday. He is currently in Sweden.