Saturday

2nd Jul 2022

EU should not 'lecture' Africa on gay rights

  • Westcott (l): 'We can lecture about lesbian, gays and bisexuals until the cows come home' (Photo: European External Action Service)

The EU's most senior official in charge of relations with Africa has said the European Union should stop lecturing the continent about gay rights.

Nick Westcott, the managing director for Africa in the EU's diplomatic service, said at a debate in Brussels on Wednesday (2 October) that the EU needs a "strong message" when it comes to foreign policy and that the message should be "two-fold."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It should be "less apologetic about our financial clout and, secondly ... more humble on the cultural issues."

Elaborating on what he meant by "cultural issues," Westcott added: "We can lecture about lesbian, gays and bisexuals until the cows come home. And it will have a wholly counterproductive effect on our usefulness in Africa. We need to focus on fundamental values."

The debate in the EU capital focused on Europe's waning foreign policy clout.

But Westcott, who was appointed to the post in 2011, said the EU still has a "tremendous influence in Africa. We remain the biggest trading partner. We remain the biggest [aid] donor by far."

He indicated that African countries' co-operation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) is another area where the EU has held back on criticism because it does more harm than good.

"On the argument over the ICC, for example, we have recently been very quiet because it is Africans who will make up their minds on this. This is not for us to tell them," he said.

Meanwhile, Westcott's line runs contrary to the EU's overall foreign policy line on the rights of gays and lesbians in partner countries.

In June this year, EU foreign ministers agreed a set of guidelines to "actively promote and protect" the rights of sexual minorities.

The 20-page paper "reaffirms that cultural, traditional or religious values cannot be invoked to justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex] persons."

Amid Westcott's remark on "fundamental rights," article 21 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights also prohibits "discrimination based on … sexual orientation."

According to the British-based NGO Amnesty International, same sex acts are illegal in almost 40 out of 54 African countries.

Gay people are also at risk of violence, with Eric Ohena Lembembe, a gay rights campaigner, murdered at his home in Cameroon in June.

Opinion

No more hiding of homosexuality

The EU court has in a recent judgment stopped countries from telling gay asylum seekers to conceal their sexuality and go back home.

Opinion

The EU-Ukraine tango on gay rights

If Ukraine does not pass a key anti-discrimination rights bill before the Vilnius summit, the chances of it coming into law afterward are slim.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship

Two MEPs have withdrawn their nominations from the MEPs Awards over the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis's participation as a sponsor — currently involved in an alleged bribery scandal in Greece.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us