• PM Joseph Muscat is the Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth. (Twitter)Source: Twitter
There are currently 40 out of 53 countries in the Commonwealth that criminalise homosexuality.
Michaela Morgan

16 Mar 2017 - 9:25 AM  UPDATED 16 Mar 2017 - 9:25 AM

The Prime Minister of Malta has condemned Commonwealth countries that continue to enforce anti-LGBT laws, according to Pink News

Joseph Muscat spoke at the Service of Celebration for Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey, pointing out that an alarmingly high number of Commonwealth countries still enforce outdated penal codes introduced by the British Empire.

“I want to single out the respect for LGBTIQ persons, the lack of it. The remarkable number of our countries [with anti-LGBT laws] is, arguably, a considerable blot on our family of nations’ standing,” Muscat said.

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“No sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.”

He went on to say that he had spoken to leaders who were aware that their legislation needed to be updated but were afraid of backlash from their constituents.

“To them, I said and I say, that the Commonwealth will be with them to help make their first steps. History, I am sure, will judge them positively when they do so,” he said. 

There are currently 40 countries out of 53 in the Commonwealth that still criminalise homosexuality, including Jamaica, India, Uganda and Papua New Guinea.

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Muscat said there was a lot to be done to change the colonial-era laws. 

“The key is engagement, and understanding, and trying to show that if you do the right thing, it’s never too late.”

The once conservative Malta is now a champion of LGBT+ rights, becoming the first European country to ban gay conversion therapy at the end of 2016.