Prime Minister Theresa May, on Tuesday, in London, the United Kingdom capital, challenged members of the Commonwealth of Nations which she said had made “outdated legislations” banning same-sex marriage to have a rethink.
May who gave the charge while addressing leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), was apparently referring to Nigeria and other countries which had made laws prohibiting marriage to a person of the same sex. President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill into law in 2014.
She insisted that no one should make any law persecuting or discriminating against another person on account of who the person chooses to love, pledging the support of Britain to any of such countries that is ready to revoke its anti-same sex law.
She said the world had moved from what it used to be in over 50 years ago, when people were dictated to, explaining that nowadays, young persons design their own lifestyles and run their life affairs as they deem fit.
Recalling that the last commonwealth meeting resolved to float an organisation promoting the interests of gays, lesbians, and transgenders, May said three of such countries which had made such laws recently revoked their laws and advised others to emulate them.
“Recent years have brought welcome progress. The three nations that have most recently decriminalised same-sex relationships are all Commonwealth members, and since the heads of government last met the Commonwealth has agreed to accredit its first organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“Yet there remains much to do. Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love. And the UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.
“Because the world has changed. When, in 1953, the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth set off on a tour of the Commonwealth, she travelled by air, sea and land on a journey that took more than five months. Today, many members of the Youth Forum have only ever known a time in which they can instantly converse with one another regardless of where in the world they live.
“Unlike previous generations, today’s young people don’t need an organisation like the Commonwealth to connect them. They can build their own bridges, forge their own links, mastermind and run their own campaigns.
“If the Commonwealth is to endure in such a world, we must demonstrate our relevance and purpose anew. We must show what the Commonwealth is capable of. And this summit can be the moment where that change begins to happen,” she said.
May also stated that her country was investing £44 million for the purpose of improving the abilities of member-nations to independently curb any menace of natural disasters in their countries.
Disclosing that 90 per cent of members are affected by the scourge of malaria, May also said the disease kills no fewer than 445,000 persons every year, pointing out that talks on legacies for children would remain a mirage if a disease which kills a child every two minutes is not decisively tackled.
Against this background, she said the United Kingdom remained committed to the promise it made two years ago that it would yearly spend £500 million to fight the scourge of malaria among member-nations in five years.
“We are only meeting in London this week because of the devastation wrought on Vanuatu by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The impact of other recent extreme weather events in the Caribbean and Pacific have underlined the vulnerability of smaller states across the Commonwealth.
“So I am proud to say that the UK, long a supporter of such nations, is investing a further £44 million to help improve members’ ability to prepare for and deal with natural disasters of all kinds. It is an issue Prime Minister Holness and I have already spoken about this morning.
“But extreme weather is not the only threat our people face from nature. Today, some 90 per cent of Commonwealth citizens live in countries where malaria is endemic. Worldwide, the disease kills 445,000 people every year, many in the Commonwealth and most of them children. Malaria has a serious impact on the economies of countries it affects. The human cost is incalculable.
“We cannot talk to the young people of the world, talk about securing a legacy for our children and grandchildren, without tackling a disease that, worldwide, kills one of them every two minutes. That is why, this week, I will be calling on my fellow leaders to commit to halving malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023.
“It is an ambitious goal, but one that is firmly within our reach. Since the Commonwealth Heads of Government last met, Sri Lanka has been declared malaria-free. Malaysia is on-course to eliminate the disease by 2020. And, since the year 2000, global malaria deaths have been cut by more than 60 per cent – the result of a concerted effort by governments, civil society groups, and individuals alike.
“Bill, you and Melinda deserve particular praise for all the work you have done in the fight against this terrible disease. Your philanthropy has saved countless lives, and your tireless campaigning has kept the issue firmly on the global agenda, including at tomorrow’s Malaria Summit.
“The UK remains committed to its five-year pledge, made in 2016, to spend half a billion pounds a year tackling malaria. Over the next two years £100 million of that will be match-funded by partners in the private sector. I know other Commonwealth nations are also among the biggest funders of this global effort,” May stated.