I write with regard to Joshua Rozenberg’s article of 16 June, ‘Charity challenge’.
It would be a matter of considerable regret if the First-tier Tribunal (Charity) were to find that seeking to prevent the imprisonment, or even execution, by foreign governments of persons charged with engaging in same-sex relationships is not a charitable objective.
I assume that, if the challenges pursued in foreign courts by the Human Dignity Trust were intended to prevent the corrupt misappropriation of funds donated to alleviate starvation or disease in under-privileged communities, that would not be regarded as primarily political, any more than raising the funds to alleviate such suffering.
And what of Malala Yousafzai’s ‘Malala Fund’, which seeks to address the injustice of education being denied to girls in the
developing world as a result of ‘social, economic, legal and political factors’? Is that not to be regarded as a charitable aim because it seeks to overcome the legal and political barriers to the fundamental right of education, irrespective of gender?
The fact that the moral wrong which HDT hopes to address is occurring overseas should make no difference to the analysis of whether its challenge is a charitable or political objective. It would certainly be a laudable charitable objective if the discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation were occurring in the UK. In the 21st century, we ought not to be so small-minded as to take the attitude that we do not need to be concerned about injustices which happen beyond our shores.
To argue that it is not in the public benefit for such abuses to be tackled because they occur overseas, as Mr Dibble asserts on behalf of the Charity Commission, is a parochial and shameful position to adopt. Is the ‘public’ which benefits from charitable activity not wide enough to incorporate all of humankind, no matter what country the disadvantaged happen to be resident in?
Nor do I see how the fact that HDT’s efforts to eradicate the morally repugnant treatment of homosexual people are directed at securing compliance by foreign governments with their own
constitutions, or international human rights laws, removes that objective from the definition of ‘charitable’. The deprivation of basic human rights is a social injustice and something that all civilised societies should seek to eradicate.
Removing activities intended to counter the perpetuation of such injustice from the scope of charitable objectives would be an entirely retrograde step.
Angela Horne, consultant, Kennedys, London EC3