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.


  1. AG says

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

  2. RONTEX says

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

  3. Ant says

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

  4. matt says

    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.

  5. ratbastard says

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

  6. Mundus says

    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.

  7. homogenius says

    @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.

  8. Anon says

    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.

  9. calvin2010 says

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

  10. matt says

    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.

  11. Ken says

    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”.

  12. anon says

    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.

  13. candideinnc says

    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.

  14. Randy says

    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.

  15. hulio says

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

  16. says

    @ 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 !

  17. andrew says

    “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.

  18. unokhan says

    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.

  19. will says

    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.”

  20. unokhan says

    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.

  21. Rexford says

    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.”

  22. Vint says

    What people in democracies may not understand is that the queen is making this declaration because she has been told to do so by the political leaders of the nation. Her statement isn’t made on the basis of her personal commitment (if any) to gay rights, but because she is obliged, as a constitutional monarch, to make the statements that the government directs her to make.

    She is signing a non-discrimination charter that was agreed to by all the Commonwealth heads of government. They, not she, are the origins of the statement.

    The reason that “gay rights” is not included in a document that had to be approved by all the Commonwealth heads of government is that not all Commonwealth heads of government would approve such a document! As noted in the Telegraph’s story, 41 of the 54 Commonwealth nations have laws against gay sex, and two of them permit the death penalty for gay acts.

    This is a baby step forward, not a great leap nor even a heroic stride.

  23. andrew says

    @Bob: Your excuse is the same one that defenders of Pius XII use to explain why he did not specifically condemn the Nazi treatment/slaughter of the Jews.

  24. andrew says

    @Will: We don’t need to be always explicitly named but she made a list: ” gender, race, color, creed, political belief”, when you deliberately leave out the other most discriminated against category of people it is extremely offensive to me and I hope to most other fair minded people.

  25. TampaZeke says

    VINT, you failed to mention that 41 of the 41 commonwealth countries with anti-gay laws had those laws imposed upon them by ENGLAND under colonial rule. To say that ENGLAND should now be afraid to mention sexual orientation is ridiculous. The monarchy and England need to be making it clear, over and over, that homosexuality wasn’t imported into and imposed upon commonwealth countries but rather homophobia and homophobic laws were.

  26. BABH says

    Let’s see… About 60 English monarchs in 1000 years, and of the 6 women*, 3 (including the current one) have to be counted among the top 10 of all time. So yes, probably time to stop barring women from accession. Or, better, start barring men, too, and move to a fully republican constitutional democracy.

    *I don’t count Empress Maude or Queen Jane.

  27. rick scatorum says

    She explicitly named other groups which AREN’T discriminated against legally

    Also, historically “all” HASN’T meant gay people

  28. johnny says

    “other grounds”

    Does that include coffee grounds?

    Parade grounds?


    One can see where this is a bit confusing.

  29. john patrick says

    I don’t get it. This statement supposedly includes sexual orientation but it is only implied because some of the antigay Commonwealth countries are bigoted? This sounds like the assertions by antigay religious groups in this country that they oppose bullying of gay youths, but it would be wrong to mention them by name because that would be sanctioning “special treatment.”

  30. J.C says

    The Daily Mail is a tabloid newspaper which consistently prints stories that are sensationalised at best and fabricated at worst.

    Towleroad…as juicy is this sort of story would be, I would HIGHLY recommend getting another source as confirmation other than the Daily Mail.

    Having studied the monarchy from a constitutional perspective, the explicit support of LGBT equality–or any government policy, for that matter–would be unprecedented.

  31. Ryan says

    I get some people could be frustrated that she didn’t say more in the statement, in specifically referencing LGBT rights. But I think it’s a nice statement and the implication is there, which is real progress.

    You have to remember that she has to weigh the need to make a positive statement with the very real fact that lots of anti-gay commonwealth countries have thought/are thinking of voting to get rid of the monarchy.

    Don’t get me wrong… I think they should. I just don’t want the reason for them to do that to have anything related to the fact that she came out for full equality. That would actually set the people in those countries further back on GLBT rights.

  32. says

    Overnight I’ve had a complete rethink on this post.

    I now believe that sexual orientation should have been expressly mentioned and that the failure to do so is just pandering to the bigoted Commonwealth nations as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya…….

    @ WILL : No. We are not now suddenly and surprisingly equal and accepted by not being mentioned as a specific class…..
    “We are part of the whole”….if you believe that you are delusional.

    The omission was deliberately done to appease the extremist African $hit holes mentioned.
    For the Queen to leave out ‘sexual orientation’ within a few months of President Obama mentioning it is a calculated slap in the face of the LGBT community……and a capitulation by the Conservative Govt……and as someone has mentioned it is a green light to use the omission to base a policy of discrimination.
    What a phuck-up.

    We need to petition for a change and we need to scream loud at this manifest capitulation to the right wing nutters of the mad Commonwealth countries.
    We have gone way past the “love that dare not speak its name”…..and we are not going back to a situation where “sexual orientation” dare not speak its name.
    WE want to be mentioned as a specific ground for non discrimination…..otherwise our non-protection will be used as a stick to beat us.
    I respectfully agree with the posters who thinks this is a cop-out.

  33. rise says

    If it’s good enough to mention women, why not homosexuals? The Queen is actually being homophobic by failing to mention us.

  34. jim says

    Couldn’t just have added the simple words “sexual orientation”? Screw the draconian twits. What utter BS.

  35. says

    The charter – and her speech, pointedly exclude us while having a laundry list of other protected status

    This isn’t protecting or advancing GBLT rights. Quite the opposite, again we’re too obscene and too scary to be mentioned

    The “other” will not protect us – because 41 of these nations already dismiss us as a “behaviour” or “lifestyle.” In fact, by creating an anti-discrimination charter that doesn’t include us, this underscores how discriminating against us is not protected. This is a step back for us, not forwards

  36. Artie_in_Lauderdale says

    The British monarch? Meh. People never expect much from the British monarch, but they DO expect much from the British Parliament. And we will have a huge deal from the British Parliament this year—something we still don’t have in most of the U.S.—full marriage equality.

  37. David Hearne says

    There is always more at stake than what self-centered folks in privileged circumstances choose to consider. There can be serious consequences to what the Queen and Parliament do.

    The first thing that came to my mind in all of this is Nigeria. Nigeria is a huge country where The Archbishop Akinola holds considerable influence. He’s roundly a jackass by our standards, but he’s also the bulwark against Islam which is infesting the country and manifesting in violence against Christians and all southern Nigerians. The problems as I understand it are twofold: the Muslims trying to destroy the country and claim it for Allah, and the fact that the Nigerian people are very conservative and superstitious ie ripe for conversion to Islam. Any swift modernization on the part of Archbishop Akinola or the Anglican Communion has the potential to trigger violence and murder of Christians by Moslems in their holy war.

    Nothing is simple.

  38. candideinnc says

    Oscar Wilde would have gotten a kick out of this. Over a hundred years later and it is still the “love that dare not speak its name.”

  39. Jerry6 says

    As Titular head of the Anglican Church, but not it’s “Pope”, actually using the word “GAY” could be overstepping her real authority re the “Church”. However, it sets a president for the actual heads of the Church to act upon.

  40. anon says

    For those that don’t know, the British Commonwealth was created after WWII to prop up the old British Empire economic system. With the political collapse of the empire, they switched to economic interests, and used the Commonwealth treaties as a way of preserving British economic interests in these countries. They’ve done a lot better than the old French Empire, but political instability is still a huge problem in many of these countries, not the least because no local economies developed like they did in Asia after WWII. Instead, we had the export of commodity resources by foreign companies type economies.

    When British politicians talk about foreign aid to Africa, what they are really talking about is bailing out British companies that do business there. It’s an ongoing scandal and it greatly retards economic and social development on almost the entire continent.

  41. jamal49 says

    RAT, that tiara belongs to the state not the Queen. In fact, practically all the ceremonial crown jewels belong to the state.

    Anyway, as the writer above says, it a house of homophobic cards that is falling down upon the Maggie Gallaghers, the Islamists, the Orthodox (Jews and Christians) and all other bigots.

    It is heartening to witness the continuing destruction of the once-monolithic homophobia that constricted and suffocated gay and lesbian people and kept us from living our lives openly without fear.

    I am so amazed to see this all happening! Yesterday, I received a wedding invitation in the mail for two long-time friends who have been together since 1981 and are getting married in May. How wonderful!

    I just never thought that I would see any of this in my lifetime!

    I look forward to watching Her Majesty’s speech.

  42. GregV says

    It’s hard for me to see this as a complete positive when the speech was designed to contain a glaring omission. It would be a bit like if a white leader had told South Africa during the apartheid era that “every South African’s right to vote, work and travel must be respected, whether his eyes are blue or light green and whether he’s descended from the Dutch or the Germans or the British, or ancestors from various other places.”

  43. Attaboy says

    Nope. Sorry. ‘Other’ is not ‘clear’ in my book.
    Given her history of avoiding referring to ‘the gays’ it seems she still finds the subject a little vulgar.