04/03/2014 12:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Elio Di Rupo, Belgian Prime Minister, Makes Gay Rights Plea To African Leaders


Belgian Prime Minster Elio Di Rupo urged African leaders attending an EU-Africa summit to respect the rights of minorities, including those victimised for their sexual orientation.

The remarks were made at a welcome dinner on Wednesday for some 80 EU and African leaders attending a summit including the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria, where draconian anti-gay laws were recently implemented to international outcry.

"We can not tolerate that some are denied their rights and persecuted for their origins, their sexual orientation, their religion and their convictions." Di Rupo, Belgium's openly gay premier, said in his remarks.

Many African countries, with the notable exception of South Africa, have laws that ban or repress homosexuality.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is attending the summit, signed a bill earlier this year that calls for "repeat homosexuals" to be jailed for life and requires people to report homosexuals.

Nigeria in January banned same-sex marriage and civil unions while homosexual acts already carry the death sentence under Sharia Islamic law which applies along with federal law in the north of the country.

Reaction to the legislations has been fierce in the West, with several European countries having cut off aid to Uganda in protest and the US comparing the measures to anti-semitic laws in Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa.

Gay rights has so far remained off the agenda at the two-day EU-Africa summit that ends later Wednesday.

The European Union hoped to include in a final draft a pledge to uphold "the rights of the most vulnerable groups, including persons belonging to minorities," according to a copy obtained by AFP.

But the latest such document, also obtained by AFP, instead calls for the respect of rights "of the most vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, the elderly and refugees, as well as to women, youth and children rights."



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