Saturday

30th Jul 2016

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.

EU free movement must be curbed, UK says

British leader Theresa May has said free movement of EU workers to Britain cannot continue as in the past, while visiting Slovakia and Poland on Thursday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children

Latest News

  1. Terrorism and migration top EU public's concern
  2. Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule
  3. Car lobby complained about emissions tampering by others
  4. Critical IMF report heralds new Greek bailout battle
  5. EU free movement must be curbed, UK says
  6. EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law
  7. Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy
  8. EU-Turkey relations after the coup