24 April 2016
Ghanian LGBT activist and Executive Director of the NGO, UK Black Pride, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, caused a media frenzy when she rejected an honorary title from the Queen of England.
Opoku-Gyimah was nominated for the title of Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the LGBT community in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. Her decision to do so has received both adulation and condemnation. Her reasons are rooted to the British monarchy’s legacy of colonialism.
She said: “I don’t believe in the empire and I am not for the establishment. But more importantly, it was about what it means to accept an honour that clearly has never thought about or talked about the impact that colonialisation has on people and countries that are still in the Commonwealth and still carry those sodomy laws. So in accepting the title, I can’t be true to myself.”
The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, the international body created out of the defunct British Empire. Of 53 Commonwealth states, 40 still have laws criminalising same-sex relationship, with some offering death as the punishment.