African, Caribbean and Pacific countries boycott launch of development package over inclusion of LGBT issues
The EU has pledged to spend â‚¬20 million ($24,660,000 £16,100,000) to help fight discrimination, including against LGBT people, around the world.
EU Commissioner Andris Piebalgs launched the package today (1 June), saying it would fund Non Governmental Organizations and civil society groups to tackle any incidences of discrimination on the ground.
Speaking during an event at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, Piebalgs said: ‘It is clear that no country can develop in the long term when some minorities face serious threats, intimidation and even violence because of who they are.
‘Since I took office, I have put the promotion of human rights and human development at the core of EU development policy. The new package launched today is a clear signal of the EU’s determination to help civil society and willing partners to make diversity acceptable and an asset of our societies.’
However, representatives from African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries, which the Commission is working in partnership with on development strategies, chose to boycott the conference over the inclusion of sexual orientation on the agenda.
Gay MEP Michael Cashman said their absence was a ‘concern’.
Speaking at a press conference today, he said: ‘We have always placed the issue of a hierarchy of rights to one side. All rights are equal’
However, he said denying aid to countries which still fail to recognize gay rights is ‘counter productive’.
Cashman added: ‘If aid is withdrawn and development processes are stopped, one is in danger of giving a legitimate reason to scapegoat the very people that we are trying to work with and to aid.
‘I see the package today as part of the process of developing change.
‘Development is a comprehensive process. You can’t just develop countries and not allow the people and diverse groups within the populations to develop. It’s a symbiotic approach.
‘The UK has said in the past that it would withdraw aid and I’m pleased that it has now revisited that. The immediate response from those countries is that it would cause greater problems.’