A UK Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has this week called for countries receiving aid to be told that we expect them to change their attitudes and laws on homosexuality. Charles Tannock, who is one of three Conservative MEPs representing London in the European Parliament, highlights the fact that in some African countries, rights that we in Britain consider fundamental are often denied.
Mr Tannock particularly focuses on legislation under consideration in Uganda which would mean capital punishment for being gay. He writes that it is a year since the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning this Bill and that the Ugandan MP sponsoring it has since made it even more extreme than it was originally.
The MEP goes on to express concern at the way in which the Bill is being supported (and allegedly bankrolled) by fundamentalist Christians in the USA and also that many African countries with laws persecuting LGBTs receive a substantial amount of aid from the UK and the EU.
In his article for influential website “Conservative Home”, Charles Tannock writes:
“Uganda can be considered a relative economic success story by African standards. Does Uganda really want to become an international pariah like Iran, which executes homosexuals? In a country where the majority of people survive on less than a dollar a day, haven’t Uganda’s politicians got more important things to focus on than persecuting gays?”
He goes on to say that we ”cannot compromise on our belief that criminalisation of sexual orientation is not the mark of a civilised society” and that “the UK and EU should make explicitly clear to African countries receiving aid that we expect them to improve their respect for and protection of human rights, not least those related to sexuality”.
Matthew Sephton, who chairs Conservative-affiliated LGBT group, LGBTory, welcomed Charles Tannock’s comments, saying “It is vital that we make it clear to countries receiving our aid that we will not tolerate such human rights abuses. I am delighted that a Conservative MEP is leading the way in ensuring that this happens.”