Final part of Queen’s baton relay met with gay rights protest

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The final leg of the Queen’s baton relay was met with a gay rights protest ahead of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham.

Around 30 demonstrators gathered outside Aston Hall on Thursday, led by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he was trying to “raise public awareness of homophobia in the Commonwealth”.

Mr Tatchell was joined by members of the Out and Proud African LGBTI group, who he said had fled persecution in their home countries.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Previews – Thursday 28th July
Some protesters wore a T-shirt displaying the words ‘we exist’ (Peter Byrne/PA)

Some protesters wore T-shirts displaying the words “we exist”, and the group took part in chants such as “freedom, equality, homosexuality”.

Many of the demonstrators held placards which read “Commonwealth countries ban selection of LGBT+ athletes” and “abolish anti-LGBT+ laws in the Commonwealth”.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Tatchell said: “We’re here with LGBT+ people from Commonwealth countries who have fled persecution.

“Some of these people have been arrested, jailed, tortured and even subjected to attempts to kill them with the sanction of their own Commonwealth countries.

“It is unconscionable – it is in defiance of the Commonwealth charter.”

Mr Tatchell continued: “Our main role today is to raise public awareness of homophobia in the Commonwealth.

“We also want to point out that the Commonwealth Games Federation says that these games are open for everyone – but that’s not true.

“An LGBT+ athlete in a Commonwealth country where homosexuality is against the law would never be selected for their national team no matter how good they were.

“They’d be put in prison instead.”