“When I was growing up [a homosexual] would not have stood in front of me. I would knock him out,” once said President Jacob Zuma. On another occasion, the South African leader also said that same-sex marriages were a “disgrace to the nation and to God” before later apologizing for his comments.
When it comes to the legal status of gays and lesbians in Africa, homosexuality is illegal for gay men in 29 countries and for lesbian women in 20 countries. The homosexual legal status in many ways mirrors the widespread African defiance campaign against the western countries standard of gay people rights.
To make things worse between Africans and westerners, at the just-ended summit of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth, Australia, British Premier David Cameron threatened to withhold UK aid from governments that did not reform legislation banning homosexuality, saying that those receiving UK aid should “adhere to proper human rights”. “Our new approach, set out in detail in July, this year, means we only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty; respect human rights; improve public financial management; fight corruption; and promote good governance and transparency,” a 10 downing street spokesperson added.
In response to such arrogance in the name of human rights, several african nations are responding with anger after UK Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to slash one type of bilateral aid known as general budget support to countries that refuse to reform laws which criminalize homosexuality. Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana could be the first victims of the policy change.
The President of Malawi, who attended the Commonwealth summit, defends his country laws for the criminalization of sexual orientation by adopting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s lingo. He describes gays as worse than dogs and pigs.
In Tanzania, speaking on different occasions on Thursday, the President of Zanzibar, who is also the United Republic of Tanzania Vice-President, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, and the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Bernard Membe, said the conditions given by the British Government were unacceptable.
Both leaders further said that Tanzania was ready to lose aid from the British government rather than reform legislations banning homosexuality.
Addressing a news conference on the occasion to mark one year of formation of Government of National Unity on the Isles, Dr Shein said same sex marriage violated Zanzibar’s ideals and Islamic religion.
“Accepting that condition is next to impossible. We will never ever take that option. They can stop aid if they wish,” said Dr Shein.
At the news conference, Mr Membe said homosexuality was a misdemeanor to Tanzania culture and religions.
“Our position on this matter is crystal clear. Our moral values and culture will always prevail even if we remained poor. We understand the issue is UK’s Conservative Party policy but we will not bow to their pressure,” Mr Membe said, adding:
“Our morals and laws are against homosexuality. We stand by our dignity. We would rather lose the aid than succumb to the dim-witted string attached.”