Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me: BBC One release date of documentary - and which countries does Olympian visit?

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Tom Daley visits the most homophobic countries in the Commonwealth to explore the plight of gay athletes

The Commonwealth Games came to a close on Monday (8 August), but Olympic diver Tom Daley is using the legacy of the games to tackle homophobia in sport.

Daley is a British diver, who won a gold medal in the 2020 10m synchronised diving event - he has also won three olympic bronze medals and four gold and one silver at Commonwealth Games events.

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Tom Daley’s show of support for the LGBTQ+ community at the 2022 Commonwealth Games Tom Daley’s show of support for the LGBTQ+ community at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Tom Daley’s show of support for the LGBTQ+ community at the 2022 Commonwealth Games | Getty Images

72 Commonwealth Games Associations took part in the games this year, and in his new documentary, Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me, Daley will travel to the most homophobic parts of the Commonwealth.

The film culminates with Tom taking a very public stand at this year’s opening ceremony, in a powerful statement against homophobia.

Which countries does Tom Daley visit?

Daley visits Pakistan, a country where homosexuality carries a maximum pentalty of death by stoning.

Homosexual acts are prohibited under Pakistan’s Islamic laws, however there are no known cases of offical executions for homosexual activity in the country.

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Daley also travels to Jamaica, where the maximum punishment is ten years’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Time magazine listed Jamaica as the most homophobic place on Earth in 2006, and the Buggery Law, which was imposed on Jamaica by England in 1861 is still in force today, even though Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962.

In the documentary, Daley speaks to sportspeople in these countries who face persecution because of their sexuality.

He also traces the influence that colonialism and slavery had on the homophobic laws across the Commonwealth.

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The documentary will also feature Daley’s appearance at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, where he represented the LGBTQ+ community.

Where is it illegal to be gay?

There are 54 sovereign states in the Commonwealth and homosexuality is illegal in 35 of them.

In many cases, laws prohibiting homosexual activity were imposed during the colonial era, and are seen as an ugly legacy of the British Empire.

However, each Commonwealth nation has had the power to legalise homosexual activity since they gained independence from Britain in the 20th century.

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Tom Daley with Carla Moore in JamaicaTom Daley with Carla Moore in Jamaica
Tom Daley with Carla Moore in Jamaica | BBC/Zinc Television London Ltd/Luke Korzun Martin

Homosexuality is currently illegal to some extent in the following Commonwealth territories:

  • Mauritius
  • Sri Lanka
  • Cook Islands, New Zealand
  • Samoa
  • Malawi
  • Namibia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Eswatini
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Jamaica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Singapore
  • Kiribati
  • Niue
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Solomon Islands
  • Cameroon
  • Ghana 
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Bangladesh
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Pakistan
  • Brunei

Globally, there are an estimated 69 countries which criminalise homosexuality in some form, and ten in which it is punishable by the death penalty.

Commonwealth countries that have the death penalty as a punishment are Pakistan and Brunie (where it is not enforced), and northern Nigeria.

Homosexual acts are criminalised in the 12 northern Nigerian states where Shariah Law is i place, and in June 2022, three men were sentenced to death by stoning by a Shariah court for engaging in same-sex sexual acts.

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When did Tom Daley come out as gay?

Tom Daley came out as gay in a YouTube video in December 2013.

In the video, he said: “My life changed massively when I met someone and it made me feel so happy, so safe, and everything just feels great. And that someone is a guy

“It felt right, and my whole world just changed right there and then.”

Since he first came out, Daley has married screenwriter and director Dustin Lance Black, with whom he had a son via a surrogate.

When is Illegal to Be Me on TV?

Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me will air at 9pm on BBC One on Tuesday 9 August. It will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer shortly after it is first broadcast.

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