Translation by G H
Alfredo Pazmiño, president of the LGBT group Triangulo Foundation in the Canary Islands, told a conference 23 May that homophobia causes the exodus of around 6000 Africans to Europe every year.
He was speaking to the Diario de Las Palmas newspaper at the second LGBT Human Rights of the African continent conference at The University of Las Palmas (ULPGC).
Pazmiño, who also organised the conference, explained that:
"This is an unknown situation in which a high number of African students come to Europe, not as asylum seekers, as they would not be able to do the paperwork in their home countries, but applying for scholarships through organisations like Triangulo Foundation or the Human Rights Office once it is palpable that their lives are at risk."Pazmino highlighted the fact that many of the youngsters make the most out of this opportunity and study degrees such as sciences, Politics, Law or Sociology.
“It is amazing the fact that although they are very scared, they usually end up going back to their home countries”He also explained the case of the Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, recent winner of the prestigious Martin Ennals award and who attended the University's first conference last year, who was a victim of so called 'corrective rape' when she was six years old:
"Although Kasha Nabagesera was raped twelve times by the whole community including family and teachers, she thought that it was essential for her to leave her country and then return to it because otherwise these corrective rapes would never end. She thought that she had to bring change to her community. All the young people who are in this conference are prepared and educated to bring this change. They will talk and fight using the most effective weapon, their face, their smile and good deeds and actions."The Canary Islands is a destination and home for thousands of African migrants and refugees and the University has hosted a number of conferences on the flow of migrants.
In the conference (inaugurated by the Dean of ULPGC Jose Regidor, the Director of Casa de Africa, Ricardo Martinez and the mayor of Las Palmas Jeronimo Saavedra) renowned activists and experts such as Tunisian activist and researcher Moujib Errahame Khaldi discussing building homophobia in the Maghribian (North African) media.
Activists presented on the experience of LGBT in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mozambique and Uganda. In Uganda, the conference heard, more than 20% of hate crimes are related to the sexual orientation of the victims and although we know about a couple like the case of David Kato, the majority of these cases are completely unknown to the media.
Regidor highlighted the fact that one of the main goals of the university is to fight for Human Rights:
"This conference looks for knowledge supporters so these people can start feeling that they are not alone in this fight to end with the jailing and the killing of people because of their sexual orientation."