A Conservative MEP today condemned the amount of aid  which the EU gives to those countries which retain the death penalty for homosexuality. In 2010, the EU gave €545 million to countries, including €6 million to Iran which has hanged more than 100 men for homosexuality since 1979.

The EU has no aid conditionality based on civil liberties including respecting LGBT rights. Instead it insists that general budget support should only be provided “when there is trust that aid will be spent in accordance with shared values”. Baroness Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has stated that the EU “closely monitors” the situation.

The details of the amount of aid was revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question submitted by MEP for London, Marina Yannakoudakis. Marina has repeatedly called on the EU to follow David Cameron’s lead, and insist that partner countries must respect human rights, including ending bans on homosexuality.

Malawi already had some of its budget support from the UK’s Department for International Development suspended in response to concerns about LGBT rights. A gay couple, who were convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison for homosexual acts, were ultimately pardoned by the President of Malawi.

Marina recently co-sponsored a European Parliament resolution which called for the 76 countries worldwide where being gay is illegal to decriminalise homosexuality. The original draft of the resolution included provisions for aid and trade conditionality, but these elements were voted out of the final version.

Marina said: “The EU needs to get tougher with its partners which still criminalise homosexuality, especially those with the death penalty. Aid conditionality works, as the UK has seen in Malawi.

“I welcome the EU investing more aid in fighting discrimination, but this is through project aid which makes up a small proportion of the EU’s total assistance package.

“The problem is in the way in which the EU spends its general and sectoral budget support funds. These make up 56% of aid in the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries and go directly to the exchequers of the recipient nations. It is difficult to monitor how the funds are spent, opening up the possibility that EU aid could even be used to support the authorities in their crackdown on consenting gay adults.

“Suspending aid to countries which routinely prosecute and persecute gays would send out a powerful message. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that British aid should have ‘more strings attached’. The EU needs strings of its own to protect LGBT people in third countries who are under the threat of oppression.”

To see the full parliamentary question and answer click here.
Press release on Marina’s resolution on homosexuality in Africa.