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Even the Queen is amused: the Commonwealth Games – the Olympics of the British Empire – were opened in Glasgow. The show started with a daring number that would have been unthinkable in Sochi.
This scene creates fodder for conversation: John Barrowman kissing a dancer
© Ian Walton/Getty Image
He kissed a man and he liked it: during this Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, the topic of tolerance and equality for homosexuals was very much present. Performer John Barrowman kissed a dancer during the show and also danced hand in hand with him. The audience found this little interlude entertaining and even the Queen smiled. Yet Barrowman received death threats for his courageous move.
This kiss, in front of the cameras, from the openly gay Scottish actor and singer, has caused indignation in a few countries belonging to the Commonwealth. While same-sex and heterosexual are mostly considered the same in the UK, homosexuality is illegal in 42 of the 53 Commonwealth countries.
Barrowman receives death threats on Twitter
Gay people are especially persecuted in African countries and in the Caribbean, but also in Asian Commonwealth countries. According to the International Gay And Lesbian Organisation (ILGA), homosexuality is punished in Kenya – a country member of the Commonwealth – by a prison sentence ranging from eleven years to a lifetime. The same goes for Jamaica, Malaysia or India (click here for an overview map)
Barrowman received abuse and death threats on Twitter. Tweets such as “he deserves to die”, “he should commit suicide” or “hopefully someone will kill him” are just a few examples of the nasty comments he got. He re-tweeted some of them on his timeline, to show “how bitter and negative some people are”, he wrote.
I am retwtin the neg because I want u all to see how bitter and Nasty and Neg some people r:) I am so happy right now. Jb
— John Barrowman News (@Team_Barrowman) 23 Juillet 2014
The kiss that upstaged the Queen
Barrowman also received a lot of support. “There were a lot of brilliant moments during this opening ceremony, but this new Glasgow Kiss was one of the highlights” wrote a Twitter user. Other wrote “I’m proud today to be Scottish”. Furthermore, the Human Rights organization Amnesty International praised the kiss on Twitter, considering it a milestone towards acceptance and equality. “A big kiss goes out to the 42 of 53 Commonwealth countries where it is a crime to be gay” they twitted.
A big kiss goes out to the 42 of 53 #Commonwealth countries where it is a crime to be gay. #Glasgow2014 #LGBTI pic.twitter.com/26HO9QlCQz
— Amnesty Int'l NI (@AmnestyNI) 23 Juillet 2014
However, Barrowman’s kiss received its biggest compliment from a CNN Reporter. “It was only fleeting and came amid a Scottish extravaganza of pop performances, dancing teacakes and a giant replica sea monster, but there was no mistaking its message.” praised Paul Gittings. Barrowman didn’t only upstage the iconic Nessie, but also the Queen.
The Jamaican athletes. On the Carribean Islands, gay people are punished by law but lynchings are also quite common.
The gay hero from Glasgow:
© Ben Stansall/AFP