Labour MEP Seb Dance: Europe must work with Africa to pursue LGBT rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Labour MEP Seb Dance says Europe “has an important role to play” in helping Africa achieve LGBT rights, but that it needs to be done sensitively.

The gay politician, who represents London in the European Parliament, has taken part in a panel debate with representatives from African LGBT organisations. MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-chair of the LGBTI Intergroup, was also present.

Activists and LGBT representatives from across Africa, including Nigeria and South Africa, noted at the conference how Africans view LGBT rights in a different way to Europeans.

The focus in Europe has moved to same-sex marriage, but in Africa the LGBT community is campaigning to establish basic human rights, such as freedom to exist without state persecution.

Homosexuality is outlawed in at least 38 African countries.

Commenting on the conference, Mr Dance said: “There is a temptation in Europe to pat ourselves on the backs with regards to LGBTI rights and take our victories and use them to try to tell everyone else how they need to go about to achieve LGBTI equality.

“But, Africa has its own unique challenges to face and must pursue LGBTI rights in their own way. It is important that we in the West recognise this, but Europe still has an important role to play.

“Equality and respect of human rights are at the heart of the European Union and the way we deal with countries, in Africa or elsewhere, that doesn’t respect LGBTI rights must reflect that.”