UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has taken a new tack in showing that the UK is strongly against the anti-homosexuality laws that exist in some nations. He is proposing that UK aid be limited for certain countries unless they reform their legislation banning homosexuality.
The issue was raised at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth where Cameron stated the recipients of UK aid should “adhere to proper human rights”. With many of these laws a legacy of the British Empire, the UK perhaps feels particular responsibility for helping change them. 41 of the 54 members of the Commonwealth have anti-gay laws.
But has the colonial legacy evaporated too much for Cameron to wield such legitimate authority? Will the stick prove more effective than the carrot? Or is this simply blackmail?
This could generate more anti-West sentiment amongst nations who already begrudge Western values being imposed upon them against their will. Can this be an effective long-term approach if it is unlikely to change the attitudes within the country? If anything, it could lead to greater resentment for homosexuals.
Cameron did concede that he does not expect countries to change overnight. But during the fight for changing governmental attitudes, it is the people who may suffer the consequences. For many in the developing world, they will resent the fact this issue may take precedence over life-threatening levels such as extreme hunger, yet for many homosexuals in these countries this is also a matter of life and death
It should be noted, however, that this threat would not actually reduce the overall amount of aid to any one country as it only applies to one type of bilateral aid – general budget support.
Either way, it is reassuring for many to see LGBT issues being taken seriously at a national level, and by none other than a conservative government!