Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Queen to sign equal rights charter

The Queen is to sign the new Commonwealth Charter in an event on Monday

The Queen is set to sign a new charter backing equal rights for women and gay people after it received the support of every Commonwealth nation, it has been reported.

The monarch will sign the new Commonwealth Charter in an event on Monday which includes the core values - from human rights to the rule of law - that leaders have committed to upholding.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the document declares: "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."

Insiders said the decision to highlight the event is a "watershed" moment because it is the first time she has signalled her support for gay rights in her 61-year reign, the paper claimed.

The Queen is expected to sign the document at London's Marlborough House, the Pall Mall headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat on Monday, which is Commonwealth Day.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said tonight: "At a Commonwealth event on Monday, the Queen will sign a charter agreed upon by the 54 members of the Commonwealth. The Queen, as in all matters, is apolitical but is signing the document in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth."

The Mail on Sunday quoted one Royal Household source as saying: "The Queen takes her Commonwealth role very seriously. She has discussed the charter in detail with her advisers and understands it in full."

According to the paper, the charter's gender rights vow says: "We recognise that gender equality and women's empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights. The advancement of women's rights and the education of girls are critical preconditions for effective and sustainable development."

The Government is introducing new legislation ending discrimination against women in the line of succession to the British throne. The measure will mean that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first baby can succeed to the throne, regardless of whether the child is a girl or a boy.

Ministers are set to introduce the new law after receiving consent from all the Commonwealth realms to push ahead with the change. The Succession to the Crown Bill will also end the ban on anyone in the line of succession marrying a Roman Catholic.

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