London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis today co-authored a resolution aimed at supporting rights for lesbian women in Africa.

The joint resolution which was submitted by all political groups bar one, addressed violent and degrading treatment which targets lesbian women in Africa. Female homosexuality is illegal in 27 African countries with Malawi newly outlawing female homosexuality in January 2011.

The resolution also looks at LGBTI rights in Africa in general and calls on the 38 countries in Africa where homosexuality is illegal to repeal their gay bans. It denounced hatred and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Marina Yannakoudakis, who is Conservative spokesman on women’s rights in the European Parliament, initially tabled the motion earlier this year when the first women ever to be charged with homosexuality in Cameroon were due to be brought before a court on 8 March – International Women’s Day.

The situation for LGBTI people in Cameroon has been deteriorating. Alice Nkom, President of Cameroon’s Association for the Defence of Homosexuality (ADEFHO), has been routinely harassed and has received death and rape threats on several occasions. The Cameroonian government also recently opposed an EU-funded aid project to provide assistance and guidance to sexual minorities.

Marina said: “Recent developments in Cameroon made me realise that we needed to stand up for the rights of LGBTI people in Africa. Lesbian women are particularly at threat from violence and rape when their sexual orientation is revealed and I and other members of the European Parliament’s women’s rights committee have been concerned by the worsening situation.”

“In my speech to the house today, I told the story of a lesbian woman who fled Uganda to my constituency of London. When her father discovered she was gay he beat her and then denounced her to the police.  At the police station she was beaten further. Later two policemen came to her cell and brutally raped her. She spent over a year in the cell where she was tortured and raped almost every day. She fell pregnant and gave birth alone in her cell. The baby was stillborn and Theresa had to leave the dead, rotting baby in the corner of her cell for days. Theresa escaped and arrived in London in 2006, but she has permanent hearing loss from the beatings.”

(link to video of Marina’s speech: http://youtu.be/3qhP4XJr_R4)

“I have been told that this is very typical of lesbians who flee persecution from some African countries. I hope that this resolution can help affect real change in these countries, so that men and women no longer have to suffer for their sexual orientation.”

“As London looks forward to celebrating World Pride this weekend, I am proud as a London MEP to have stood up for the rights of LGBTI people the world over who are under the threat of oppression.”

Erin Power, Executive Director of the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (ULGG) said of the resolution: “UKLGIG welcomes the European Parliament’s recognition of the precarious situation of LGBTI people, especially women, in some African countries.  We particularly endorse the acknowledgement that those groups working in-country are best placed to understand how to bring about change and the proposal to both consult and offer support to these groups.”

For the ext of the joint resolution click here.

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