The European Parliament adopted a report in which it calls 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, yesterday (Thursday).
According to the European Parliament sanctions should follow for those states failing to respect human rights clauses.
The Parliament which is elected by citizens of Europe who are members of the European Union, also expresses its deep concern over anti-LGBTI laws, as found in the Gambia and Nigeria and as nullified by the Constitutional Court in Uganda.
Currently, diplomatic, trade and aid relationships between the EU and ACP states are governed by the Cotonou Agreement. The Agreement includes a dialogue on “political issues of mutual concern or of general significance” in joint talks, including “discrimination of any kind” (Art. 8.4), yet fails to mention sexual orientation and gender identity specifically.
The report was adopted with a large majority of 575 in favour, while 64 voted against.
Alyn Smith, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Scottish National Party, and member of the European LGBTI Intergroup, and Trustee of LGBT Youth Scotland, told Kaleidoscot: “The work done by the ACP EU delegation is often overlooked and that is a shame because, largely down to the legacy of Empire, the various EU member states actually have considerable influence over the African, Caribbean and Pacific states.
“The report has some unusually strong language for a diplomatic text, but rightly so and we worked hard to get it in. The report says in Paragraph 16 that Europe:
‘Reiterates its deep concern over the adoption and discussion of legislation further criminalising homosexuality in some ACP countries; calls on the JPA to place this on the agenda for its debates; calls for reinforcement of the principle of non-negotiable human rights clauses and sanctions for failure to respect such clauses, inter alia with 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.’
“Bringing this right into the future discussions with these states can only be useful, putting them on notice that the way many are behaving on equalities is unacceptable and will have consequences, be it in aid, trade or reputation.
“This is exactly the sort of soft power the EU is good at.”
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, can not be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership. It is time to fully acknowledge that.”