Aid dependent African countries like Malawi, have a very unlikely ally in the name of Peter Thatchell, a leading gay rights global campaigner.
Thatchell has described as wrong British Prime Minister’s remarks that his country will consider withholding aid from countries that do not recognise gay rights.
“Britain is now one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights, and that includes how people treat gay and lesbian people,” David Cameron told the BBC after the Commonwealth meet failed to adopt a resolution on the issue.
But Thatchell in a statement released yesterday said that Britain and Cameron are wrong.
“Although these abuses are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law, cuts in aid would penalise the poorest, most vulnerable people. Many are dependent on aid for basic needs like food, clean water, health care and education,” said Thatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Thatchell Foundation.
Malawi depends on aid for its development budget but criminalizes homosexuality backed by leading christian churches.
This week, Christian churches lashed out at Cameron describing his comments as undemocratic and unreasonable.
Thatchell said that instead of cutting aid, Britain and other donor countries should divert their aid money from human rights abusing governments and redirect it to grassroots, community-based humanitarian projects that respect human rights and do not discriminate in their service provision.
“These frontline, on-the-ground projects tend to deliver the most cost-effective aid that gets most directly to the people who need it. By redirecting aid in this way, abusive governments are punished but poor people are not penalised. They continue to receive the aid they need.
“Any sanctions must always be targeted at human rights abusers, not at the general population.
Thatchel also supported the statement by a coalition of African social justice activists, which is urging the UK government to rethink its plans to cut aid to despotic and homophobic regimes.