Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel confronted Arab leaders over anti-gay laws in a powerful speech today (28 March).
The first gay EU leader to be married said his same-sex marriage would condemn him to death in some of their countries.
The conference room at a summit of EU and Arab states fell ‘silent’ when Bettel made his statement.
‘Saying nothing was not an option for me,’ he said later.
Bettel planned to make the statement at the first gathering between the EU and Arab League.
Homosexuality is punishable by death under sharia law in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.
Gay sex is also illegal in Algeria, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Syria, Kuwait and the UAE.
The summit took place in Egypt. Homosexuality is punishable by up to 17 years in prison.
However, the crackdown on the LGBTI community goes far beyond that.
A TV host was jailed for one year for interviewing a gay man on his TV show last month.
Host Mohamed al-Gheiti, who has expressed his own anti-gay views in the past, was also fined 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($147, €129).
The host will be under surveillance for one year after leaving prison.
The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, defended the bloc’s decision to hold the summit.
‘If I only talked to flawless democrats, then I would end my week already by Tuesday,’ he said.