Commonwealth Games Opener’s Gay Kiss Provokes Homophobic Member Countries

John Barrowman's smooch with a kilted man was a message to the 42 out of 53 Commonwealthe countries where it is illegal to be gay...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

The Commonwealth Games opened in Glasgow on Wednesday night, and though it fell a little short of Danny Boyle's Olympic Opening Ceremony two years ago, there were some upshots to it. As well as a sequence where lots of people dressed up as Tunnock's teacakes shimmied around, and a recreation of the Loch Ness Monster, there was a massive political statement in the form of a kiss.

One of the biggest hangovers of imperialism in the Commonwealth is that 42 of the 53 member countries have criminalised homosexuality. So, as a massive coup of pro-equality propaganda, Dr Who and Torchwood actor John Barrowman (who, despite the accent, is actually Scottish) kissed another man during the ceremony's tribute to Gretna Green (a place made famous by hosting marriages for eloping couples). After he kissed the kilted bloke, the presenter, speaking over the tannoy, said: 'Here's to equality in Scotland!' then loads of party poppers (the paper ones) went off.

Scotland's parliament voted in favour of same-sex marriage in February, and it's due to come into force by the end of the year.

It's not only John Barrowman and the opening ceremony's organisers who have turned the games into an opportunity to teach certain countries that their laws against gay people are embarrassing, but MPs too. John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, said it was 'shameful' for homosexuality to be criminalised, adding: 'Surely, it is time for the Commonwealth to do more to support lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual people to ensure they are not discriminated against, no matter where they live?'

Well, totally. A televised kiss won't exactly change international policy, but just like Conchita Wurst winning Eurovision for all of Russia to see, or that Brookside lesbian kiss beamed onto screens around the world during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, it's going to have shown LGBT people watching in those countries that there are people thinking of them.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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