Monday

26th Jun 2017

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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

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

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.

EU approves rescue of Italian banks

The European Commission gave the green light to a €17-billion plan by the Italian government to save Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Interview

Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health

A leading scholar of sustainability issues has called on the EU to introduce protectionist food policies that impose tough health and environmental standards in order to stop the imports of cheap and poor quality meat.

News in Brief

  1. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  2. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  3. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  4. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  5. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  6. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  7. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  8. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. EU approves rescue of Italian banks
  2. Cohesion policy for a stronger Europe
  3. Cheap meat is a bigger problem for climate and health
  4. Ministers to reject minimum parking spaces for electric cars
  5. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  6. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  7. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  8. EU extends sanctions on Russia