British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened he may seek to reduce foreign aid to Commonwealth countries which persecute homosexuals.
Speaking at a summit at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, Cameron said nations receiving financial aid from the United Kingdom should “adhere to proper human rights,” including ending the prohibition of homosexuality.
This is an issue where we are pushing for movement, we are prepared to put some money behind what we believe. But I'm afraid that you can't expect countries to change overnight,” Cameron told the BBC.
Britain is one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights. We are saying that is one of the things that [determine] our aid policy, and there have been particularly bad examples where we have taken action.
However, according to BBC, Cameron has only threatened to reduce one kind of bilateral aid known as “general budget support,” and would not cut the total amount of aid to any one nation.
Reportedly, budget support accounts for about 5 percent of the Britain's total annual aid budget of £7.46 billion ($11.9 billion) and is conditioned upon the receiving nation adhering to such practices and good governance, human rights and poverty reduction, among other items.
According to reports, of the 54 nations of the Commonwealth, three-fourths (41) have laws which ban homosexuality. (Ironically, many of these laws are inherited from the laws of the British Empire).
Nations that have already been cited for gross violation of the rights of homosexuals include Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda and Ghana.
In fact, Malawi has already seen some aid from the UK suspended due to its poor record on human rights.
Nigeria’s senate is mulling a bill to prohibit same-sex marriage. Homosexuality is punishable by up to fourteen years in prison.
In Ghana, a government minister named Paul Evans Aidoo has encouraged people to report suspected homosexuals to the government so they can be prosecuted. Christian groups in the West African country have roundly condemned homosexuality, which is already illegal in Ghana.
The parliament in Uganda proposed an explicitly anti-homosexual bill two years ago while a prominent gay rights activist David Kato, was brutally murdered earlier this year.
However, according to BBC, a prominent Ugandan journalist reacted with some ire to Cameron’s pronouncements.
I welcome any move to pressure our government to be respectful of democratic values and human rights but speaking as a Ugandan I think we have much more important issues to deal with than the rights of homosexuals,” he said.
This is your money and you know where you want to put it but we face very serious issues of corruption, poverty, education and hunger. These are the most critical issues for us, not homosexual
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.