Saturday

25th Feb 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.

Focus

Malta to push for LGBTI rights in troubled times

Malta has, in a short space of time, emerged as a champion for LGBTIQ rights. Activists hope the Maltese EU presidency will help to put their rights higher on the EU agenda.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Searching for a voice and a standard bearer

As Britons come to terms with the reality of Brexit many Remainers are now listless, looking for someone to present a viable alternative to Theresa May's dominance

Column / Brexit Briefing

Searching for a voice and a standard bearer

As Britons come to terms with the reality of Brexit many Remainers are now listless, looking for someone to present a viable alternative to Theresa May's dominance

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin the Rare Disease Day and Help to Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations