Today, Queen Elizabeth II is signing a new charter for the Commonwealth that supports gender equality and possibly gay rights, as well. It states, "We recognise that gender equality and women's empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights . . . We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."
This is the first time the monarch is acknowledging the same-sex population in her capacity, an important detail when you consider gay relationships are recognized in only five out of the 54 Commonwealth nations and "homosexual acts" are illegal in 41. That said, we're not likely to see the queen waving a rainbow flag in a gay rights parade. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson made sure to note that she's not allowed to give a personal endorsement on political matters such as these, saying, "The Queen is apolitical and is signing the document in her capacity as head of the Commonwealth." The signing of the 16-point charter is one element of Queen Elizabeth's Commonwealth Day duties, including a message she delivered at Buckingham Palace. She did, however, pull out of the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey due to health problems that sent her to the hospital earlier this month.