Delegates at a conference on LGBT rights in Africa have been told that around 6,000 young Africans flee to Europe to study every year in a bid to escape homophobia in their home countries.

This according to Alfredo Pazmino, president of the Triangulo Foundation in the Canary Islands. He was speaking at the second LGBT African Human Rights conference, held last week at the University of Las Palmas.

“We talked about a largely unrecognised reality; in which a high number of African students come to Europe, not as asylum seekers, as they would not be able to do the paperwork in their home countries, but applying for scholarships through organisations like Triangulo Foundation or the Human Rights Office once it is clear that their lives are at risk.”

Pazmino said that many end up studying in areas such as the sciences, politics, law and sociology.

He added: “It is amazing that although they are very scared, they usually end up going back to their home countries.”

Experts from Tunisia, Mozambique and South Africa met at the conference to discuss the discrimination and persecution of lesbians, transsexuals, gays and bisexuals in much of Africa.

Homosexuality is outlawed in 38 African nations with penalties including life imprisonment and the death penalty in at least three regions.

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