There has been a fast and furious response to UK Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestion that aid would be cut to countries which failed to respect gay rights. Cameron made the announcement at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia.
Tanzania is the latest nation to slam Cameron's suggestion. The government of the East African nation says it will not relax its harsh anti-gay laws even if that means it loses "substantial" funding, reports Reuters Africa.
"Tanzania will never accept Cameron's proposal because we have our own moral values. Homosexuality is not part of our culture and we will never legalise it," foreign affairs minister Bernard Membe was quoted as saying by Tanzania's Guardian newspaper. "We are not ready to allow any rich nation to give us aid based on unacceptable conditions simply because we are poor. If we are denied aid by one country, it will not affect the economic status of this nation and we can do without UK aid."
Tanzania, a former British colony and one of Africa's biggest per capita aid recipients, received $453 million of aid for its 2011/12 budget, with Britain the largest provider of general budget support.
Britain apparently is backing down, according to the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen.
The British High Commissioner to Tanzania Ms Diane Corner ... said the UK won’t enforce acceptance of homosexuality in Tanzania, nor would it withhold development aid to the country on account of the latter’s negative perception of gay culture. The High Commissioner spoke only a day after Tanzania’s forceful expression of opposition to the widely publicised views of Mr Cameron to the effect that countries that failed to enforce the rights of minorities, including gays, could be denied British aid.On Thursday, the Zanzibar President, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, said his government would not abide by the UK demands on same-sex marriages.
In Tanzania, sexual relations between men are criminalized under penal codes Section 154 and 257 and punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment.
British, Canadian and Australian leaders asked African and Caribbean nations to decriminalize same-sex relations in an effort to fight soaring HIV rates. So far: Ghana, Malawi and Uganda have angrily denounced Cameron's threat and vowed to go without British aid rather than repeal their laws.