Re-direct, But Don't cut aid, over human rights abuses, Activists say

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Tatchell added: “I support 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.”

[Global: United Kingdom]

Fifty three Human Rights groups have petitioned the British government, pleading not to cut its foreign aid to countries such as Uganda for the actions of their tyrannical leaders and corrupt governments.

"The British government is wrong to threaten to cut aid to developing countries that abuse human rights,” said Peter Tatchell who doubles as the director of the human rights lobby and Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Tatchell noted that: “Although these abuses are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law, cuts in aid would penalise the poorest, most vulnerable people.”

“Many [people] are dependent on aid for basic needs like food, clean water, health care and education," Tatchell further noted.
This followed the announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement plans to withhold aid going to governments that do not reform legislation interdicting homosexuality. Since 2008, Britain pledged aid to a tune of £ 70 million (approximately $ 112.5 million) per year for a period of ten years, Uganda would benefit £700 million.

The human rights defenders argue that people from World's poorest countries should not suffer for their government's tyranny and corruption.

Such similar have previously been by a number of other donor countries against countries like Uganda and Malawi. Canada, Sweden, the US had threatened that if Uganda doesn’t discard the proposed law intended to severely punish homosexuals, they would cut aid given to the country.

In the recent times, the values of Commonwealth have been under scrutiny because of human rights abuses in members’ states, but the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia’s main issue was human rights.

During the Australia summit, when leaders failed to agree on Human Rights reform, and when the British PM Cameron took to the stage, he announced that, those receiving UK aid should “Adhere to proper human rights”, decriminalize of homosexuality as one of the recommendations of an internal report into the future relevance of the Commonwealth.

In a statement made by African social justice activists on the threats made by British Prime Minister, they wrote that the British government to "cut aid" to African countries that violate the rights of LGBTI people in Africa.

“We, the undersigned African social justice activists, working to advance societies that affirm peoples' differences, choice and agency throughout Africa, express the following concerns about the use of aid conditionality as an incentive for increasing the protection of the rights of LGBTI people on the continent,” reads part of the statement.

Organizations that signed the petition are: ActionAid (Liberia), African Men for Sexual Health and Rights - AMSHeR (Regional), AIDS Legal Network (South Africa),  AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (Sub-regional), ARC EN CIEL + (Cote d'Ivoire),  Arc en Ciel d'Afrique (Canada), Centre for Popular Education and human Rights - CEPEHRG (Ghana), Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (Ghana), Coalition of African Lesbians- CAL (Regional), Engender (South Africa), Evolve (Cameroon), Face AIDS Ghana (Ghana), Fahamu (Regional).

Others include : Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda), Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe - GALZ (Zimbabwe), Horizons Community Association (Rwanda), House of Rainbow Fellowship - (Nigeria), ICHANGE CI (Cote d'Ivoire), Identity Magazine (Kenya), IGLHRC Africa (Regional), Ishtar MSM (Kenya), Justice for Gay Africans (Diaspora), LEGABIBO (Botswana), Let Good Be Told In us (LGBTI) Nyanza and Western coalition of Kenya (Kenya), Most at Risk Populations' Society In Uganda (UGANDA), Mouvement pour les Libertes Individuelles - MOLI (Burundi), My Rights (Rwanda), Network against violence, abuse, discrimination and stigma-Africa (Regional), Nyanza and Western LGBTI Coalition of Kenya (Kenya).

Also Sheep Afrika (Kenya), Outright Namibia, Pan Africa ILGA (Regional), PEMA Kenya, Queer African Youth Center Network QAYN - (Sub-regional - West Africa) Rainbow Candle Light (Burundi), Reseau Camerounais des Personnes Vivant avec le VIH - Recap+ (Cameroon), Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme (Kenya), Si Jeunesse Savait (Democratic Republic of Congo), South African National AIDS Council - LGBT sector Spectrum Uganda Initiatives - (Uganda), Stay Alive Self Help Group (Kenya), Stop Aids In Liberia, The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIER) – Nigeria, The International Center for Advocacy on the Rights to Health -ICARH (Nigeria), The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa), Together for Women's Rights ASBL (Burundi), Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa) Triangle Project (South Africa), UHAI-the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (Sub-regional -East Africa), Vision Spring Initiatives West African Treatment Action Group (Sub-regional - West Africa), Women Working with Women (Kenya) and Youth Focus (Uganda).

Switch Aid: The organisations called on the UK government not cut aid because of the persecution of LBGTI people instead it should support African social justice activists.

“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,” said Tatchell, adding that: “These frontline, on-the-ground projects tend to deliver the most cost-effective aid that gets most directly to the people who need it.

Tatchell went on to explain: “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,” said Tatchell in reference to Mr. Cameron’s statement last week.  Tatchell added: “I support 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.”

 “They explain very eloquently why this policy is morally wrong and politically misguided. I stand in solidarity with their statement," said Tatchell.


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