European Parliament condemns violence against lesbian women, supports LGBTI rights in Africa

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution on violence against lesbian women and LGBTI rights in Africa. The Parliament is reacting to an increase in arrests and violence against LGBTI people, and particularly lesbian women, on the continent.

Download the full resolutionWith this new resolution, the Parliament expresses its acute concern over the arrests, violence, rape and murder of lesbian women in African countries.

Recently, lesbian women were reported to be increasingly arrested in Cameroon. They remain regular victims of ‘corrective’ rape and murders in South Africa, and other countries, such as Liberia and Malawi, see legal and social conditions worsen for lesbian women.

The Parliament notes the situation is worsening in countries such as Uganda and Nigeria, but potentially improving in Malawi, where newly appointed president Joyce Banda aims to decriminalise homosexuality, and in Swaziland, where HIV/AIDS prevention efforts are ongoing despite strong legal threats.

The debate in the European Parliament was overwhelmingly supportive of the rights of LGBTI people, and especially lesbian women, with very strong speeches by Members of the European Parliament and by European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Despite support from centre-right MEPs Eija-Riitta Korhola (EPP, Finland) and Edit Bauer (EPP, Slovakia), the EPP group withdrew its support from the draft resolution hours before the debate. Voting against the resolution, conservative MEP Bernd Posselt explained he wasn’t in favour of mixing criticism of violence with non-discrimination.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, said: “I find it utterly shocking that the EPP group withdrew their support from a resolution they had previously agreed to. Why can they not condemn the raping of lesbian women and killings of LGBTI people? Their opposition makes no sense.”

“But I remain convinced the Parliament will stay committed for the years to come, as it has been since 1993, to the human rights of LGBTI people.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Despite the ugly opposition of center-right MEPs to this resolution, I’m proud to say that once more, the European Parliament expressed its strong commitment to peace and equality. No amount of discussions, resolutions or speeches will do justice to the lives of danger a lot of women and LGBTI people face in countries around the world. While we keep pushing for equality here in Europe, we also stand in solidarity with minorities around the world.”

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