October 12, 2011

IconGovernment to cut aid for homophobic countries

Ministers have announced plans to slash aid for African countries with a poor LGBT rights record.

Prime Minister David Cameron is said to back plans for LGBT-sensitive cuts in aid. The aim is to reduce aid budgets by several million in order to put pressure on states such as Ghana and Uganda.

“The Government is committed to combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all circumstances, in this country and abroad,” a spokesperson for International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told the Mail on Sunday. “We take action where we have concerns.”

“We now allocate funds every three months, rather than every year, so that we can review a country’s performance, for example on human rights, and take swift action when governments fall short. We only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty and respect human rights.”

The government has already reduced aid to Malawi by £18 million. The southern African nation is known for its poor LGBT rights record, and came under international scrutiny in 2010 after a cis man and trans woman were jailed for planning a “gay marriage”.

Junior Minister Stephen O’Brien has reportedly warned the President of Ghana that his country may lose up to £36 million.

The move has not been necessarily been welcomed by LGBT rights organisations in Africa. “I am afraid that this strategy will buttress the concept of neo-colonialism in the global south,” explained Joseph Sewedo Akoro, Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights in Nigeria.

“It will raise the argument of imperialism by the global north and its impact on development of third world countries. My concern is, what if this strategy of aid cut exacerbates human rights violation on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity?”

The UK’s overall spending on foreign aid is due to increase from £7.5 billion in 2010 to £11.4 billion in 2013.

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Ruth Pearce


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