More criticism of Cameron: Don’t cut aid, switch it

by on November 2, 2011  •  In International, Religion

British Prime Minister Cameron's warning to Commonwealth nations that foreign aid from the UK would be cut unless anti-gay laws changed may have been well intentioned, but its hamhandedness has generated repudiation by both conservative governments and human rights activists. Progressive African human rights organizations – including lgbt and AIDS service groups – and individual leaders have signed a petition stating in part:

Donor sanctions are by their nature coercive and reinforce the disproportionate power dynamics between donor countries and recipients. They are often based on assumptions about the nature of African sexualities and the needs of African LGBTI people. They disregard the agency of African civil society movements and political leadership. They also tend to exacerbate the environment of intolerance in which political leadership scapegoat LGBTI people [as the cause of] donor sanctions…

The document calls on the UK to redirect aid money to progressive grassroots organizations in Africa, making the obvious point that diminished aid to the poor will hurt poor lgbt people in the affected nation along with everyone else. Meanwhile, conservative officials who oppose liberalizing the criminal law had a field day reacting to Cameron, invoking national culture, sovereignty and dignity as defenses against efforts by the West to "impose" homosexuality on African nations.

The backlash, for example by political officials and the press in Ghana, will end up helping to scapegoat the human rights groups that badly need to be strengthened. As Cameron has acknowledged, his threat will produce no change in the near future. It's much more likely that these groups could.


One Response to More criticism of Cameron: Don’t cut aid, switch it

  1. Jay November 3, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    It seems to me that the threat is coming from the poor countries: if you don’t give me even more aid, we will commit even more human rights violations. This is rubbish. It is not asking too much for recipients of foreign aid to agree to respect the human rights of their citizens.

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