Yesterday, the European Parliament called for inclusion of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in a future agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. The Parliament adopted a report that included this matter. If states do not respect human rights clauses, sanctions will follow.
Diplomatic, trade and aid relationships between the European Union and ACP states are governed by the Cotonou Agreement. The agreement includes a dialoge on ‘’political issues of mutual concern or of general significance’’ and ‘’discrimination of any kind’’. However, it does not mention ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ specifically. Therefore the Parliament wants these matters to be laid down black on white in the Cotonou Agreement.
The report has been adopted with 575 in favor and 64 voting against. Paragraph 16 of the report further mentions a deep concern over ‘’the adoption and discussion of legislation further criminalizing homosexuality in some ACP countries’’ and ‘’calls for reinforcement of the principle of non-negotiable human rights clauses and sanctions for failure – regard to discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity and against people living with HIV/AIDS’’. The Parliament is especially concerned about the LGBT laws in the Gambia, Nigeria and Uganda. In the latter, LGBT laws were even nullified.
Ian Duncan MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and Member of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), reacted: "In this report the European Parliament has made its position very clear: We do not accept the state-sponsored homophobia as we find it in an increasing number of ACP countries." "Over half of the ACP states criminalise homosexuality. It is time to effectively use our relationship with the ACP states to stop this wave of homophobia."
Isabella Adinolfi MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and part of the ACP-EU JPA, continued: "When we are faced with the horrific violence people suffer for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex, it is time to reinforce the principle that human rights clauses are universal and non-negotiable." "The right to non-discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, cannot be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership. It is time to fully acknowledge that.”
By Elske Idzenga
Sources: Europarl; LBGT-ep;