Two openly gay members of the European Parliament today slammed European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs over the revised ‘Cotonou Agreement’, which delineates political and trade relations between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states.
The cause of the brewing row is that Mr. Piebalgs agreed last week a new deal with the ACP which did not include the human rights of LGBT people.
The Commissioner had previously intended to include non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the new terms of the agreement – an aspect that was demanded by the European Parliament.
“This is unacceptable for the European Parliament,” fumed Michael Cashman MEP (UK), co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LG BT Right, this afternoon.
“The Commission backed down in the face of governments that increasingly discriminate, imprison, torture and kill people because of their sexual orientation. It is a dangerous signal that there is a hierarchy of rights: some will be defended, but others will not.
“This matter will not be left to rest here,” he pledged.
Negotiations came to a close last Friday over the revised Cotonou Agreement, which delineates political and trade relations between the European Union and ACP.
Out of 79 ACP states, 49 criminalise homosexuality with up to 14 years in jail, and up to five punish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with death.
“I would have expected Commissioner Piebalgs not to give in to pressure from ACP governments,” said Ulrike Lunacek MEP (Austria), the other Intergroup co-president.
“His abdication is not only against European values, it also is harmful to LGBT people in ACP countries who are confronted with the notion of homosexuality being ‘un-African’ – a notion proven wrong by historians and sociologists.
“The European Parliament will confront the Commission with this decision,” she added.
The revised Cotonou Agreement has been tentatively agreed in discussions that were concluded on Friday. The official signature planned for June in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.