John Barrowman delivered a stunning rebuke to the 42 nations of the Commonwealth in which homosexuality remains illegal – by kissing a man during the opening ceremony of the Glasgow games.
The gay actor, who was born in Glasgow, sang "Welcome to Scotland" as part of the opening act with comedian Dunbar, the pair entering the stage from beneath a giant kilt. Barrowman then kissed a male "bride" at a mock Gretna Green before being whisked away on a sea of "heather".
Politicians have voiced their concerns over the plight of the LGBT communities across the Commonwealth leading up to the Games, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg telling campaigners in Glasgow that it was unacceptable that almost 80 per cent of the countries involved practise some form of LGBT discrimination.
"The Commonwealth core values and principles which all Commonwealth countries sign up to are clear. They say that ‘We are committed to equality and respect for the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights’. Yet almost 42 out of 53 countries of Commonwealth countries that are represented here in Glasgow this week criminalise homosexuality in some way."
Clegg, who attended the opening ceremony, added: "We’ve come a long way in this country towards achieving the genuine equality that LGBT people have always wanted and deserved. This includes last year’s landmark equal marriage reform. Yet there’s still a huge amount to be done across the world.
"As we celebrate the bravery of Olympians who have come out - Tom Daley, Ian Thorpe or Nicola Adams for example – some countries are taking backward steps; putting their LGBT Olympians so far back in the closet that they can’t ever imagine their day in the open. We can’t dictate how other nations behave but we can promote the principles we believe in – of a fair and open society both in the UK and abroad."
Speaker of the House John Bercow also voiced his opposition ahead of the opening ceremony, calling for an end to the "shameful" criminalisation of homosexuality in the vast majority of the Commonwealth countries.
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) July 23, 2014