UK/commonwealth Aid Matter & The New Developments, no aid cuts but redirecting, ethical problems on our part – 22.11.11(my audio commentary)
Andrew Mitchell (photo) said the policy had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid
The government has confirmed plans to redirect aid away from overseas governments who fail to recognise human rights, but has said it will still ensure aid reaches those in need.
Some African states reacted angrily to Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell’s comments that aid would be redirected away from governments to other bodies, believing that overall aid would be cut unless anti-gay laws were repealed.
In October, he said: “Taking money away from Governments does not mean you do not support that country. You find other mechanisms for trying to help the poorest with food, education and health care as well as building up business structures.”
Mitchell made the statement to a meeting at which Peter Tatchell, the Kaleidoscope Trust, Stonewall, Justice for Gay Africans and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance were present.
He said the government’s position had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid or to single out LGBT rights as a condition for aid.
The Kaleidoscope Trust had presented the minister with reports byAfrican social activists and the Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana, both of which pointed to fears of a ‘backlash’ against LGBT people.
Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, said: “Andrew Mitchell clearly understands the importance of setting LGBT rights into a wider context and of avoiding any risk of harm to those that British policy is designed to help.
“We are fortunate to have a government that takes these issues seriously and is prepared to speak out when necessary.
“We look forward to working with ministers to help ensure that the views of LGBT people in countries that receive UK aid are properly taken into account and that the consequences and potential benefits of policy changes are effectively explained.”
Peter Tatchell said: “The commitment of the UK government to global human rights, including LGBTI rights, is welcome and commendable. I am pleased to hear that no cuts in aid are planned.
“Although human rights abuses are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law, any reduction in aid would penalise the poorest, most vulnerable people in developing countries. Many are dependent on aid for basic needs like food, clean water, health care and education. They should not be made to suffer because of human rights abuses by their governments.
“I look forward to Andrew Mitchell and David Cameron making high profile public statements in the coming weeks to refute the misreporting of government aid policy and to counteract the negative anti-LGBTI backlash that this misreporting has generated in some African countries.
“Perceptions are important. It is very damaging to LGBTI communities in developing countries if cuts in vital aid are associated with LGBTI people and western demands for LGBTI equality. This inflames homophobia.”
15 African states in the Commonwealth criminalize homosexual acts, with many more in Asia, Oceania and the Americas also treating them as illegal.
When this thing first broke I was very clear that we needed clarification on this both from the threat being an actual threat to begin with and if we were included in the list of commonwealth countries as I figured it had more to do with African states and if we actually benefited from such aid, some say we do other say we don’t, the Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson had said we do get a small tranche used to rehabilitation work in some prisons and deportee assistance upon their return to Jamaica, now with this news breaking I have serious issues with our advocacy structure who seemed to have gone on a frolic of their own to have unethically used the supposed threat by David Cameron to push our need for buggery decriminalization as it coincided with the commonwealth heads of government summit and the UN human rights review for us, this is not the way to do business as it will auger us no good in the end.
Now that we have the smoke cleared several questions come to mind:
1) were we too quick to jump the gun locally?
2) were our advocates using the original report as a tag along to unethically promote decriminalization of buggery on a false footing?
3) why didn’t JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays and the other groups check to make sure we were in the batch of nations where aid could have been redirected or perceived cut as before now?
4) where would all this have gone if we knew it as redirected and not cut?
5) why has it taken so long for the Brits to clarify this?
6) are the British now backpedaling too seeing the furor the whole thing has caused?
Speaking to Sky News in October, Mr Mitchell said: “We have been very clear on this – where we think Governments do not have respect for human rights, it will have a big effect on the way we carry out this funding. Taking money away from Governments does not mean you do not support that country. You find other mechanisms for trying to help the poorest with food, education and health care as well as building up business structures..
“It is not about taking money away from countries but finding other mechanisms to help them. We take a very clear line. In a number of countries in Africa that discrimination against homosexuality has concerned us. In Malawi when they kicked out the British High Commissioner we looked at the whole nature of that relationship.
“We were aware there had been some expenditure by the President. We were aware there had been some lack of human rights – the intention to criminalize lesbianism – all took a part in my decision to stop funding the government centrally.
“What we don’t want to do is take money away from very, very poor Malawians who England, and particularly Scotland have a strong relationship with.”
Clearly they were targeting African countries more so than the Caribbean.
Although the debate is on in earnest the advocates should never have in effect mislead the nation and should have sought to clarify the position before diving head on with coalition teams at that participating knowing or unknowingly. How can we have any moral authority to ask the nation for any dialogue or present our arguments on the strength of a farce in a sense to bolster our call for the buggery law to be removed?
True representation must be above board and must be untestable ethically speaking and have some moral soundness, we need to get our act together, after all our detractors will judge us on that as they do already condemn us because of our “nastiness” we cannot go making demands and calls for acceptance on shaky ground, we have done so only some months ago in August or at least some parts of the advocacy structure when after the damning Jamaica Observer article on the banning of gay homeless men from one of the chain of advocacy organization one of the associated groups launched a stand outside an AIDS conference happening in Montego Bay that weekend calling for inclusion in the event yet the very inclusion they were clamouring for was the very inclusion that same homeless men clamoured for at the gate of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life on August 23 and 24 on the two days of shame of the second such civil disobedience action taken in history, the first took place February 2010 after the closure of the Safe House project and forced resignation of a supportive Executive Director who had started the pilot project.
Too many double standards? or are the British now backpedaling too seeing the furor the whole thing has caused?
The whole thing now looks very untidy from all standpoints and parties involved as well.
Suffice it to say some will say cutting aid versus redirecting it is the same but let us remember aid comes in many forms and tranches.
Think on these things
Should Jamaica repeal its buggery law to maintain British aid? ……. from Gay Jamaica Watch on a poll on the Gleaner’s “Have Your Say Blog”
Peace and tolerance