Just how safe is the EU ‘safe list’?

In several countries that are included on the "safe list", homosexuality is still illegal. [Niko Knigge/Flickr]

The inclusion of countries that persecute homosexuals on the “safe list” has led the German Greens to ask for infringement proceedings to be launched. EURACTIV’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.

The so-called ‘safe list’, which is due to be extended, includes countries where individuals are not at risk from political or sexual persecution. On Wednesday (14 October), the German Greens asked the EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, what has been done for the asylum rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people.

The party wants infringement proceedings to be opened against Germany, as it has included several countries on the safe list where sexual minorities are discriminated against.

Ghana and Senegal: 22 years of ‘safety’

Specifically, the complaint is based on Ghana and Senegal, which have been on the safe list for 22 years. In the spring, Green politicians of both the German and European parliaments advised European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to open the infringement proceedings against Berlin.

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In both African countries, same-sex relationships are deemed to be offences that are punishable by imprisonment by the criminal code. To list the countries as “safe”, is a breach of several European agreements.

The European Greens are not just gunning for Germany though. They want proceedings to be launched against Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Those countries have also included on the list certain states that punish non-heterosexual sex with draconian punishments.

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Belgium, France, Malta and the UK have all listed India as “safe”, despite Delhi’s stance on homosexual relationships; this is also the case in Gambia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

Botswana, Cameroun, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, the Seychelles and Tunisia, all on the list, also hand out prison sentences.

German government downplays danger

In response to a request from the Greens, the German government downplayed the effect of such laws. In Ghana, there has not been a single conviction for many years in fact. In Senegal, there have been judgements, but, evidence of “a systematic persecution cannot be seen.”

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Volker Beck, of the Greens, called this attitude ridiculous – while the German Foreign Office warns its citizens about travelling to Senegal and Ghana, the Ministry of the Interior downplays the consequences of the very same legal system.

This article appeared on EURACTIV Germany.

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