Uganda and Nigeria: European Parliament calls for targeted sanctions over new laws

Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning new laws to imprison lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in Nigeria and Uganda. The resolution calls on the European Commission and Member States to take immediate action in the fields of political cooperation, aid, and asylum.

ACP-EUIn December, Nigeria adopted the ‘Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill’; in January, the President of Uganda promulgated the ‘Anti Homosexuality Act (2014)’. Both laws foresee harsh penalties for people who ‘commit homosexuality’ (up to life imprisonment in Uganda, up to 14 years in Nigeria).

The laws will particularly impact those wishing to go to gay-friendly bars; attend meetings by NGOs protecting human rights; or receive information about HIV/AIDS.

With this resolution, the Parliament asks the Commission and Member States to step up their human rights dialogue with Uganda and Nigeria under the Cotonou Agreement, which organises political relations between the European Union and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

A human rights dialogue is scheduled with Uganda on 28 March. If it leads to unsatisfactory results, MEPs will ask the Commission to consider suspending Uganda and Nigeria from the Cotonou Agreement.

The resolution also calls for aid to be redirected away from governments, and towards civil society organisations instead.

The Parliament also suggested that Member States consider travel and visa bans for political and civil society leaders responsible for the passage of the laws.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Rapporteur of the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement, reacted: “After 15 years of ACP-EU relations, we must admit that the Cotonou Agreement is failing human rights.”

“This house believes it is high time to take the next step, and consider suspending Nigeria and Uganda from the EU-ACP political dialogue.”

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “These laws gravely undermine the most basic right of all: the right to life.  We know that the mere examination of these laws has already led to deaths.”

“LGBT people in Uganda and Nigeria now live in a constant state of fear, just for being who they are, while we know that female and male homosexuality is not ‘un-african’ as some claim. It has existed and will exist in all cultures and societies.”

“The EU must take a strong stance against the governments and leaders behind these laws, while standing in solidarity with all the citizens of these countries.”

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Image credit: © European Union