African nations urged to embrace LGBT rights

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African and European LGBT organisations have asked all African states to fight homophobia as an EU-Africa summit takes place in Lisbon next weekend.

ILGA Europe and its African equivalent Pan Africa ILGA have denounced “state-sponsored” homophobia on the African continent and asked that all African countries adopt the Yogyakarta Principles.

Launched in March 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

In their joint appeal the LGBT organisations stressed that homophobic laws, which violate fundamental rights of GLBT people, are still in place in many African states.

ILGA and its partner organisations have called on those states that consider same-sexual relationships a crime to abolish those laws.

At least 38 countries in Africa still criminalise consensual same-sex acts among adults.

According to ILGA, although many of these countries do not systematically implement discriminating laws, “their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens need to hide from the rest of the population out of fear.”

The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of LGBT issues and have been adopted by judges, academics, a former UN high commissioner for Human Rights, members of treaty bodies, NGOs and others.

They include many issues, such as colonial criminal laws in India, proposed discriminatory legislation in Nigeria, police abuses in the US, banning of a gay prides in Eastern Europe and Russia, exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues from European school curricula.

ILGA says it would be a major step forward for human rights protection if, on the occasion of their summit, European and African states adopted these principles “as their new guidelines to challenge homophobia and to assure the protection of fundamental rights to all their citizens.”