|United Kingdom’s minister for Africa Henry Bellingham|
Malawi and other African countries will not be forced or induced into enacting pro gay laws in exchange for aid, United Kingdom’s minister for Africa Henry Bellingham has declared.
Bellingham , who has been visiting Malawi on his African tour that has also taken him to Zambia, stressed that her majesty’s government would ensure that all countries in the African continent respect international human right laws and that do not persecute any minorities.
“United Kingdom will not tie its aid to Africa to gay rights but would make sure that all countries do not maltreat or discriminate against any one for being gay,” he emphasized.
Pressed to clarify if London was in any way forcing African countries to enact gay friendly laws through aid, Bellingham vehemently declined such assertions as untrue saying: ” NO! We are not doing that and we will never do that at all.”
He said: “What we are saying is that members of the commonwealth and we aspire to adhere to universal rights and part of those rights is protecting interests of the minorities.
Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries incuding Malawi save for South Africa, Chad and Gabon.
Recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron has come under intense criticism from many African countries which among others include Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana over threats that his government would cut aid to developing countries that would not enact pro- homosexual laws.
Just a fortnight ago the Malawi Council of Churches condemned Britain for pushing Malawi to the edge to ratify pro gay laws as a condition for receiving aid.
Malawi’s president has also on several occasions publicly denounced Malawi’s colonial masters, Britain and development partners for advocating for homosexuality in the impoverished southern African country using aid as a bet for financial aid through the civil society.
President Bingu wa Mutharika and his government accused Britain and other major bilateral donors of promoting homosexuality in Malawi.
But Britain’s Mail on Sunday recently quoted International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell as saying that African countries which persecute gays will have their aid cut.
He said Britain has cut aid to Malawi by £19 million soon after two gay men Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were sentenced to 14 years with hard labour by Blantyre Principal Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa.
Usiwa Usiwa in his judgement said: “Malawi is not ready to see its sons getting married to its sons.”
But Bellingham elucidated that Cameron had never said at any point Britain would cut aid to any particular country in Africa over gay rights.
“What he (Cameron) did say is that we do oversee where we have a big aid program, it does give us the right to talk to governments not to persecute minorities be they religious, disabled or gay,” clarified Bellingham.
He said Cameron had countries like Malawi in mind where there was ‘very extreme persecution of gays’.
“Mr. Cameron did not say that we will be tying aid to gay rights, never,” emphasized Bellingham.
He added: “The UK will always be sensitive to local traditions,” states African Minister, “We are not those countries that lecture to others we only remind countries of their universal legal obligations.”
Meanwhile, after visiting Rumphi where UK gave financial donation to a local group, Bellingham said UK support to Malawi has increased to about £90 million (about K24.1 billion) from around £75 million (about K20.1 billion).
He said the aid has been cut from government’s budget and redirected to communities.