Discrimination | Queen Elizabeth II | Royalty

Queen Elizabeth II to Sign Historic Pledge Against Discrimination Seen As Signal of Gay Rights Support

Queen Elizabeth II will sign an historic pledge against discrimination that does not explicitly mention gay people but is being seen as a powerful gesture on gay and women's rights, the Daily Mail reports:

QueenIn a live television broadcast, she will sign a new charter designed to stamp out discrimination against homosexual people and promote the ‘empowerment’ of women – a key part of a new drive to boost human rights and living standards across the Commonwealth.

In her first public appearance since she had hospital treatment for a stomach bug, the Queen will sign the new Commonwealth Charter and make a speech explaining her passionate commitment to it.

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.

The Queen is expected to say that the rights must "include everyone", according to the paper.


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.

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  1. Compliments to you, Andy, on your choice of a lovely photo portrait to accompany this good news post.

    Posted by: AG | Mar 9, 2013 6:47:34 PM

  2. Whoa, so many things I didn't think I'd get to see in this lifetime happening so fast. Fantastic

    Posted by: RONTEX | Mar 9, 2013 6:47:40 PM

  3. In 2013, to be against discrimination toward gays is hardly historic. Not explicitly mentioning gays in the charter is a discrimination itself.

    Posted by: Ant | Mar 9, 2013 6:48:45 PM

  4. Hear that NOM? It's all falling in on you now.
    The president of the United States, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, the president of France and the queen of England all disagree with you.
    I guess you can still count Ahmadinejad, Valdimir Putin and the pope in your corner.

    Posted by: matt | Mar 9, 2013 6:54:55 PM

  5. What I wouldn't give for just one of her tiaras. I could easily clear up all my debts, then invest and retire early.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 9, 2013 7:14:39 PM

  6. She is so 'implacably' opposed to this form of discrimination that she dare not mention it lest there be a backlash???

    Implacable must have developed a new meaning of late...

    Still, baby steps are always welcome and I doubt there is any animus on her part - as titular head of the Church of England she would cause uproar were she to be more explicit.

    Posted by: Mundus | Mar 9, 2013 7:14:59 PM

  7. @AG This is her most recent official portrait as Queen of Canada--just check out the honours she is wearing.

    @ANT True on both counts--if you care more about being "right" than being effective. The monarchy and some developing Commonwealth countries are struggling to escape the 19th century so this achievemnet must be considered in context to be appreciated.

    Posted by: homogenius | Mar 9, 2013 7:19:33 PM

  8. Perhaps some Towleroad Anglophiles can elaborate on this: I believe one of the Queen's titles conferred at the coronation is "Defender of the Faith" making her the head of the Church of England. This Declaration may have some positive effect in that regard.

    Posted by: Anon | Mar 9, 2013 7:19:45 PM

  9. Men will never be free until the last king (or queen) is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

    Posted by: calvin2010 | Mar 9, 2013 7:22:45 PM

  10. Yes, Anon. She's the "supreme governor" of the CoE. But the de facto head is the archbishop of caterbury, who was just recently installed. I'm sure the palace spoke with him before making this decision. That's probably really why she isn't using the word gay. The archbishop is concerned about keeping the fraying anglican communion together. It includes countries like Nigeria, Uganda and Jamaica--which are all very anti-gay and very unhappy that the CoE ordains women and gay men. But things are changing even faster now, as the CoE just recently decided that openly gay men can become bishops. So, it's all changing--but they are trying to keep commonwealth countries from leaving the anglican communion.

    Posted by: matt | Mar 9, 2013 7:31:35 PM

  11. I'm sorry but why is deference being given to Commonwealth countries with draconian anti-gay laws? These are exactly the people who need to be told that what they are doing is not acceptable. The words "sexual orientation" needs to be in this statement, not some vague reference that "rights must include everyone".

    Posted by: Ken | Mar 9, 2013 7:32:17 PM

  12. The most important aspect of the new law is the change in primogeniture. It would be best if the law is changed before the new baby is born because there would be doubts if a girl is born and the law takes effect afterwards. However, the crown may not survive bonnie Charles III, or not without a lot of changes. The irony is that his son would be the first relative of Charles II on the throne since King James II.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 9, 2013 7:40:35 PM

  13. How brave and enlightened of this woman whose only claim to significance is that she is related to William of Orange and has drained the coffers of the British public for about 70 years.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Mar 9, 2013 7:40:40 PM

  14. I don't give one crap what my Queen has to say on this matter. I didn't elect her, and she has no legitimate authority.

    The fact that she can't be bothered to stick up for gay people (despite the inexplicable spin put on this article) merely cements her as among the bad, rotting pieces of history.

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 9, 2013 7:43:40 PM

  15. pretty sad, although i suppose leadership is no longer expected of royalty

    Posted by: t | Mar 9, 2013 7:49:38 PM

  16. ...and certainly not of a monarch

    Posted by: t | Mar 9, 2013 7:51:42 PM

  17. Bear in mind this story is from the Daily Mail which is about as trustworthy as Winona Ryder in a Marc Jacobs franchise

    Posted by: hulio | Mar 9, 2013 8:02:56 PM

  18. @ ANON :
    Yes, you are right she is conferred as head of the Church of England "the Established Church"........
    But the title "Defender of the Faith" was conferred on Henry VIII by the Pope because Henry 'wrote' a book/pamphlet on some religious topic.
    I don't think it's that title makes her head of the Church of England, she gets that by Statute, the Act of Supremacy (or the Act of Uniformity or some such Act.)

    I'm not an Anglophile, I'm a republican in the real sense of that word.
    But I have to admit that sometimes the English can be the fairest and most decent people in the world.......... then I remember their bloody history....but I digress.
    This anticipated statement from the Queen is big !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 9, 2013 8:16:27 PM

  19. "or on other grounds", "In deference to Commonwealth countries with Draconian anti gay laws" All the more reason to specifically add the words sexual orientation. to the list.

    Posted by: andrew | Mar 9, 2013 8:41:07 PM

  20. Ugh, what takes the old fart so long?

    Posted by: jeremyrain | Mar 9, 2013 9:15:36 PM

  21. the absence of 'sexual orientation' here is so glaringly obvious that "her majesty" has issued a de facto invitation to homophobes around the world to do what they will. this pronouncement is slightly worse than being damned with faint praise.

    Posted by: unokhan | Mar 9, 2013 9:18:59 PM

  22. @ UNOKHAN

    She is titular Queen of some of those backward countries where there would be an uproar, and even repercussions to Gay citizens, if she were direct. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_Commonwealth_of_Nations

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 9, 2013 9:29:39 PM

  23. Oh, what is wrong with some of you people who need to be expliitly named? We've always said we wanted to be normalized into society, treated equally, and that is what the law proposes do. There is nothing in it about gays being exempt from the nondiscrimination. THIS is equality. We don't get named anymore. We're part of the whole. We will be treated without discrimination.

    As gay pride segues into everyday normality and equality, we don't NEED to say "look at me."

    Posted by: will | Mar 9, 2013 9:43:29 PM

  24. and yet this pronouncement is precisely about singling out -- by absenting. nobody need profess the least interest in the opinions of royals, but what is NOT said here is the sort of side-stepping one expects from monarchists, popes, and sundry other reactionaries, and it invites more trouble than if nothing had been uttered at all.

    Posted by: unokhan | Mar 9, 2013 9:53:31 PM

  25. If we're to assume what's meant by "other grounds," then why be specific about some of them? It could have just as easily read, "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination on ANY GROUNDS."

    Posted by: Rexford | Mar 9, 2013 9:53:45 PM

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