Saturday, June 25, 2011

(NYASATIMES) Britain PM ‘proud’ with pressure on Bingu over gays

COMMENT - Proving billionaires are not necessarily the smartest people... This is exactly what gays in Malawi need, the idea of gay rights as a foreign policy. Why did the British people vote the Conservatives back in? Didn't they have enough after Thatcher?

Britain PM ‘proud’ with pressure on Bingu over gays
By Nyasa Times
Published: June 23, 2011

British Prime Minister David Cameron during a reception for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gender (LGBT) grouping on Wednesday picked on the UK’s lobbying of African government’s on LGBT human rights as an issue to showcase his government’s credentials.

Cameron specifically singled out Malawi for mention in his remarks said is happy with the pressure his government put on President Bingu wa Mutharika on gay rights last year.

“I’m very proud of the fact we [put] huge pressure on the leader of Malawi about an issue in that country but I’m convinced we can do more. We have got the ability to speak to African leaders, African governments, about this issue that I know concerns everyone here tonight. And it concerns me,” he said.

Cameron: Happy with pressure on Bingu

He claimed that the British coalition government’s commitment to not cut its foreign aid budget meant it carried “moral authority” when speaking to global south countries about “what we expect from them”.

Last year, the country’s first openly gay couple – Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza – was convicted of practicing homosexuality and sentenced to the maximum 14 years in jail. The president pardoned the couple following international pressure.

Cameron’s mentioning of Malawi drew comments from Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Undule Mwakasungula who welcomed the stand and sentiments expressed by the British Premier.

But blogger Paul Canning writing on his blog noted that in a warning about how delicate these issues of using aid, especially when it comes with rhetoric like “moral authority, are, and despite LGBT issues being minor in the game being played with Malawi’s government, they have used supposed pressure on LGBT issues to play to the local anti-gay gallery and to the ‘African sovereignty’ gallery and to divert attention from the real reasons aid might be diverted or even withheld.”

Canning wrote that in Malawi this diversionary tactic has led to direct threats to two NGO leaders: Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) chairperson Undule Mwakasungula and executive director of Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) Gift Trapence. Both organisations actively support LGBT rights.

“What, exactly, Cameron’s rhetoric might mean though is opaque as the actions of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as documented in its 2011 Human Rights report show very little activity in Africa on LGBT human rights,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, voted 23 to 19 on June 17 to approve a resolution that expresses “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The resolution calls for the creation of a U.N. commission to document discriminatory laws, practices, and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity around the world.

The study is to recommend “how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

– Nyasa Times

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