• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Clergyman calls for human rights focus at 2014 Games

A PROMINENT clergyman has urged Scotland's politicians to voice opposition to all human rights abuses within the Commonwealth in the run-up to Glasgow's Games in 2014.

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral in ­Glasgow, used his Christmas sermon yesterday to warn human rights abuses across Commonwealth countries were too numerous to mention.

Rev Holdsworth, one of the leading Anglican churchmen in Scotland, said draconian laws on same-sex relationships in several ­countries were the legacy of British colonialism.

He also raised Glasgow's role in the anti-apartheid movement as setting the template for the city's role in championing human rights, and how targeting sports events back then had an impact.

So far, only the Scottish Greens have been vocal in calls for Commonwealth leaders to be held to account when they arrive in Scotland next July.

During his sermon, Rev Holdsworth said: "The city of Glasgow is the place where many eyes will be looking as we host the Commonwealth Games.

"We must not shirk from naming that which is ill. For all is not well in the Commonwealth. Sadly, driven by the legacy of British colonialism, several Commonwealth countries should be held to account when they come to us. It will not merely be sports people who are here but their political leaders.

"With Sri Lanka unable to face ­questions about war crimes; with Uganda and India even in these last few days attempting to turn the clock back for those who are gay, with human rights abuses across Commonwealth countries too numerous to mention, there must not simply be silence when so much of the English speaking world comes to sport and play."

During the summer, amid calls to boycott next year's Sochi Winter Olympics due to Russia's gay rights record, activists urged civic Scotland to ­challenge the 80% of Commonwealth nations that have ­sanctions including the death penalty against their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations.

Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie called on ministers to go beyond "talking up sports and Glasgow" and raise LGBT abuses with Commonwealth nations.

Catholic Archbishop Philip Tartaglia has also criticised some of the practices of health assessments firm Atos, a key Glasgow 2014 sponsor.

However, though Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander urged the Prime Minister not to attend the Sri Lanka Commonwealth Summit due to human rights concerns, Glasgow 2014 has stayed largely clear of controversy.

Before his sermon, Rev Holdsworth said: "The Commonwealth Games are the friendly games and friends sometimes have to tell the truth to one another. The anti-apartheid struggle succeeded because ordinary people across the world played their part. In some cases it meant recognising sporting events are also political gatherings.

"We welcome all who come in peace and we welcome all people of goodwill. That should not stop us looking very carefully at the values that Commonwealth countries themselves possess and calling for all to live up to the best values of the Commonwealth ideal."

A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said: "The delivery of the Games is underpinned by the core values of the Commonwealth Games Federation - humanity, equality and destiny. In addition, and through the values of sport, integrity, teamwork, excellence, respect, tolerance, fair play and friendship, Glasgow 2014 is a Games for everyone."

A Scottish Government spokesman said it wanted the Games to reflect those values, adding: "These are important to Scotland and will be evident in the events and activities this government organises around the Games."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "Glasgow is proud of its record in standing up for people's rights, social justice and equality. We have raised concerns around LGBT rights with the UK Government and will continue to make appropriate representations."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

202053