This week, Sarah Champion MP told the House of Commons that some African nations want to stop the UN appointing a human rights watchdog for LGBT people. Champion’s concerns were rightly echoed by Members of all parties and, on behalf of the Government, Sir Alan Duncan made clear that “the UK’s entire diplomatic network” has been put to work to defend the UN’s appointment and LGBT people around the world.
It is galling that we still have to make the case for all people to live free from the fear of violent discrimination – but we do. Sarah Champion’s speech in Parliament and the Government’s response were not some form of “virtue signalling”, but a necessary affirmation that we will do everything we can to protect people’s rights.
History reassures us that prejudice against LGBT people is more unusual than LGBT people themselves. Many great civilisations of the past have been happily led by openly LGBT people like Greece’s Alexander the Great, Rome’s Hadrian, and the Azande warriors…of African Congo.
We can be optimistic that the wheel will turn again and today’s prejudices will be recognised as a sad anomaly – but it will take people like Sarah Champion and Sir Alan to get us there.