This week, the BBC reported on UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that aid recipients should protect human rights, including the humane treatment of homosexuals. It launched a discussion of what could become a new form of aid conditionality long practiced by donor countries, but more typically in favor of the adoption of certain types of economic policies and governance structures.
Of course, there is a touch of bitter irony in the demand — while a full 41 of 54 commonwealth countries have laws banning homosexuality, in most cases these are legacies of British Imperial law.
In various African countries, leaders rebuffed the proposal.
From the Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry, Hannah Tetteh:
Our society does not accept the practice of gays and lesbianism
This may emerge into one of the great North-South values clashes in the years to come. While democratic practices have often been attached to loan conditions, virtually no leaders have taken the public stance that they actually oppose democracy, even if they undermine the institution in practice. In the case of homosexual tolerance, however, given low public support, leaders are taking stark and uncompromising positions, and some countries are looking to toughen their approach rather than the reverse.
(See my recent post about the extent of harsh treatment towards gays around the world, especially in Africa.)