The European Parliament building in Strasbourg.

The European Commission has been criticised by the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights for agreeing to a trade deal with countries criminalise gay people.

Originally, the revised Cotonou Agreement – which delineates political and trade relations between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states – was intended to include non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation as part of the treaty’s new terms.

However, European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs ultimately agreed to a deal with ACP states that does not mention the human rights of LGBT people.

“This is unacceptable for the European Parliament,” said Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

“The Commission backed down in the face of governments that increasingly discriminate, imprison, torture and kill people because of their sexual orientation. It is a dangerous signal that there is a hierarchy of rights: some will be defended, but others will not. This matter will not be left to rest here.”

Out of 79 ACP states, 49 criminalise homosexuality with up to 14 years in jail, and up to five punish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with death.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, added: “I would have expected Commissioner Piebalgs not to give in to pressure from ACP governments. His abdication is not only against European values, it also is harmful to LGBT people in ACP countries who are confronted with the notion of homosexuality being ‘un-African’ — a notion proven wrong by historians and sociologists. The European Parliament will confront the Commission with this decision.”

The revised agreement has been tentatively agreed upon, with the official signature planned for June 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

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