Development minister Ulla Tornaes of Denmark has released a statement that the county will withhold over 9.8 million dollars in foreign aid to the county of Tanzania after “unacceptable homophobic comments” from a senior politician were made and also because of news of LGBT persecution happening in that country.
“I am very concerned about the negative development in Tanzania. Most recently the totally unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner,” Ms Tornaes said on Twitter.
“I have therefore decided to withhold DKK 65m in the country. Respect for human rights is crucial for Denmark.”
Last month, Paul Makonda, (pictured above) commissioner for the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, called on the public to report suspected gay men to the police.
He said he would set up a surveillance squad to track down gay people.
Back-peddling the government of Tanzania said at the time that Mr Makonda was expressing his personal opinion, not government policy.
It said the government would “continue to respect and uphold all human rights as provided for in the country’s constitution”.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
The country of Sweden on Wednesday announced that it would stop all development aid payments to Uganda immediately “because of the anti-gay legislation” passed in late February.
“The government reaffirms its strong condemnation of the Ugandan legislation that violates the fundamental rights of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people,” International Aid Minister Hillevi Engström said.
“Swedish aid is not unconditional. That’s why the government has decided to withhold state-to-state payments,” she added without specifying the amount involved.
On February 24th, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a series of bills banning the promotion of homosexuality and making it mandatory to report gays in a country where they can face life-time imprisonment.
Other European nations, namely Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, announced on the very same day that they would freeze their aid to the Ugandan state or redirect it towards private sector initiatives, aid agencies and rights organizations.
Sweden’s subsidies to Uganda in 2012 amounted to $34.1 million dollars.
Proposals for a “special” Gay Pride Week in Denmark to honour Hans Christian Andersen, author of The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling and Thumbelina among many others are causing deep divisions within Denmark
Trine Bramsen, the Social Democrat MP for Funen, the poet’s birthplace promtes the idea 100 percent saying that it would be a boost to the local economy.
“There is so much palaver about Hans Christian Andersen’s sexuality, and I think we should use it,” she said. “It should be a week where gays from all over the world can come to the island of Funen.”
She said participants in the festival would be able to marry in Funen’s many historic churches, after new laws come in guaranteeing gays the right to religious church weddings.
But some on the island of Funen disagree.
Finn Wagner, a pensioner described the proposal as ‘distasteful’.
“This great Dane has been enjoyed by millions of children and adults worldwide,” he wrote. “Denmark has not deserved this. Funen has not deserved this.”
Vivi Jelstrup, of the Danish Gay and Lesbian association, said that while she supported the idea of a gay week, she wasn’t certain that the great writer had actually been gay. “To my knowledge, Andersen was not homosexual, but bisexual. It appears from his diaries that he alternately fell in love with men and women,”
Denmark was the first country in the world to allow gay civil partnerships when it introduced the legislation in 1989, and public polls show that about 70% of the population supports same-sex marriage.
The Church of DenmarkakaThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, (Den Danske Folkekirke or Folkekirken, literally meaning the “People’s Church”) is the state church and largest denomination in Denmark and Greenland. The church is Evangelical Lutheran and since the establishment of the Danish Constitution of 1849 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) has been regarded as “the church of the people” as well as an official national church. The church is financially supported by the state, but membership is voluntary.
But even though 70 percent of the population supports same sex marriage some senior religious figures oppose the plans. Henrik Højlund chairman of the Evangelical Lutheran Network said gay marriage would be “fatal for the church”
The coalition government’s church minister, Manu Sareen states,. “I have many friends who are homosexuals and can’t get married. They love their partners the same way heterosexuals do, but they don’t have the right to live it out in the same way. The first same-sex weddings will hopefully become reality in Spring 2012, and I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church. I’ll be standing out there throwing rice.”