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Tom Daley condemns homophobia in the Commonwealth ahead of Birmingham 2022

Tom Daley has condemned homophobia across Commonwealth nations ahead of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham on Thursday.

Homosexuality is a criminal offense in 35 of the 56 nations that make up the Commonwealth, many of which still apply colonial-era laws from the British Empire. Punishments include flogging, life imprisonment and the death penalty.

As part of a BBC documentary to be broadcast next month, Olympic champion Daley traveled to some of the most homophobic countries in the Commonwealth to highlight the discrimination faced by the LGBT+ community.

The film will culminate with Daley carrying the Queen’s baton to Birmingham for the ceremony, accompanied by some of the athletes and supporters he met while filming the documentary.

“I’ve experienced homophobia my whole life, competing in countries where it’s illegal to be me and where I don’t feel safe leaving where I’m competing,” Daley, who came out as gay in 2013, said in a statement released Wednesday.

“If I feel this way as a privileged person, I can’t imagine what everyday life is like for LGBT+ people in the Commonwealth.

“LGBT+ athletes must be safe and comfortable in their authentic selves without fear of persecution or death.”

Daley, 28, a four-time Commonwealth champion, revealed last month that he would not compete in this year’s event as he continues his break from competition after winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

The athletes featured in his documentary, titled “Tom Daley: Illegal To Be Me”they include Michael Gunning, the only openly gay athlete in Jamaica’s national team, and Dutee Chand, India’s first openly gay athlete.

“The Commonwealth Games Federation can be a shining example to other sporting organizations that sport really can be for everyone and with the power of appeal that sport has,” Daley said.

“We hope that we can influence change in the appalling human rights laws that exist in so many countries around the world.

“The CGF has been willing to talk and hear what we have to say and it is good to see that they have started to take a stand towards more inclusion. Together with incredible LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth, we will make a difference.”

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