British Queen Signs New Commonwealth Charter as Debate Rages Over Exclusion of 'Gay Rights'

Queen Elizabeth II will mark Commonwealth Day on Monday by signing the new Charter of the Commonwealth at an evening reception - a document that has already sparked debate, with some commentators attempting to portray the contents as pro-gay despite the fact that the document itself contains no explicit reference to homosexuals or homosexuality.

The Queen will sign the document in the evening after she was forced to cancel her scheduled appearance at the earlier Commonwealth Day Observance event at Westminster Abbey, as she is still recovering from a recent bout of gastroenteritis.

At the evening reception Queen Elizabeth II will reportedly "say a few words" before signing the charter that sets out to define the core values that Commonwealth leaders have committed to upholding. Those values include the support of human rights and the rule of law across the 54 commonwealth member nations.

The charter will also state, "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."

Although in the run-up to the signing of the charter some commentators have sought to promote it as a document seeking to offer support to the homosexual community, the charter contains no explicit backing for gay rights.

Many member nations of the Commonwealth still have restrictions and laws against homosexuality in place, and it appears as though the document purposely has ensured it retains a more general rhetoric against discrimination and human rights.

U.K. publication, The Daily Mail, has tried to imply that the reference to "other grounds" is intended to refer to sexuality, however, others have highlighted that those words were obviously excluded specifically from the wording of the document so as not to spark divisions on the issue between member nations.

The Daily Mail did however point to an unofficial "Palace source" as saying, "The impact of this statement on gay and women's rights should not be underestimated. Nothing this progressive has ever been approved by the United Nations. And it is most unusual for the Queen to request to sign documents in public, never mind call the cameras in."

Meanwhile, advocates of gay rights are objecting to the exclusion of the words "gays" and "homosexuality."

Rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has told The Independent, "While I doubt that Elizabeth II is a raging homophobe, she certainly doesn't appear to be gay-friendly. Not once during her reign has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the LGBT community."

Tatchell also highlighted that while the Queen has spoken approvingly of the U.K.'s many races and faiths, for six decades she has not felt the need to highlight LGBT Britons.

The charter, agreed by all Commonwealth heads of government on Dec. 14, 2012, will also endorse 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.

A spokesman of the Buckingham Palace, the official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch, was quoted as saying, "The Queen, as in all matters, is apolitical but is signing the document in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth."