Tory MEP says EU funds for Africa should depend on gay rights progress

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A Conservative MEP has said that EU financial aid to African countries should depend on their commitment to gay and human rights.

Dr Charles Tannock, the foreign affairs and human rights spokesman for the Tories in Europe, said he raised the issue in the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week.

He said he mentioned Ugandan gay rights campaigner David Kato, who was murdered last month. The campaigner had received threats after being outed in a local newspaper.

Dr Tannock said: “It is inevitable that in a climate of such bigotry the lives of gay rights activists would be endangered, and so it has sadly proved to be the case with David Kato. He knew the risks of publicly defending gays.

“I am sure that many of my London constituents are deeply concerned about the European Union giving financial aid to a country where such disgusting sentiments are not only tolerated but sometimes apparently officially condoned.

“I hope that parliament’s delegation for relations with the Pan-African Parliament will consider carefully what action it can take to register our anger and disgust at Mr Kato’s murder and, more generally, to underline that the EU’s continuing engagement and financial aid to African countries must be reciprocated with progress on fundamental human rights on that continent.”

This is not the first time that the suggestion has been made.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill has led to its annual UK aid being criticised. In 2009/10, the country received £68 million in aid from the UK.

Last year, Labour MP and former Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane said all foreign aid should be audited to ensure it does not go to “governments, faith groups or political organisation which promote homophobia at the global level”.

In 2009 Swedish development assistance minister Gunilla Carlsson suggested that her country could cut aid funding in Uganda over the controversial bill.