On the eve of the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon, African and European LGBT organisations have called on all African nations to reject homophobia.

The summit will see heads of states from the European Union and from Africa gathering on December 8 and 9 in Portugal to discuss issues of mutual interest, including matters of governance and human rights.

In the appeal, led by ILGA Europe and Pan Africa ILGA, the organisations noted that LGBT people continue to be persecuted under anti-gay laws in nations across the continent. Thirty eights countries in Africa have laws which criminalise homosexual acts.

The appeal urged African and European governments to show their commitment to human rights by adopting the Yogyakarta Principles.

The Yogyakarta Principles, drawn up by a distinguished group of international human rights experts in 2006, outline human rights guidelines and standards and their application in the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The European Union-Africa summit has been mired in controversy months before it started. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he would boycott the summit if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of human rights abuses in his country, is allowed to attend.

Nevertheless, the European Union has lifted its travel ban on Mugabe, who will be taking part in the conference on the insistence of other African leaders who said that his participation was not negotiable.

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