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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 11
House committee OKs Barney Frank amendment to discourage aid to anti-Gay countries
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House committee OKs Barney Frank amendment to discourage aid to anti-Gay countries

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

On March 15, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee passed an amendment proposed by Barney Frank (D-Mass.) that would discourage U.S. foreign aid to countries that persecute their LGBT residents.

'The Committee urges Treasury to advocate that governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development institutions do not engage in gross violations of human rights, for example, the denial of freedom of religion, including the right to choose one's own religion, and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity,' the amendment says.

According to Frank, his amendment passed with nearly unanimous support.

Frank chaired the committee from 2006 through 2010, while Democrats controlled the House. He is now ranking member of the committee.

In his presentation to his colleagues, Frank cited Uganda, a beneficiary of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program, as an example of a country that openly abuses its LGBT citizens.

'The United States has a fairly influential voice in the development area,' Frank said. 'And we should not be supportive of providing multilateral bank development funds going to the governments of countries which engage in the physical persecution of people because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity.'

How the amendment will fare if it comes to a vote before the full House is unclear.

Many Republicans oppose foreign aid on principle, and others want to reduce what they view as unnecessary federal spending during a severe recession.

On the other hand, many Republicans are unsympathetic to LGBT rights. Republican politicians associated with The Family, a secretive conservative Christian group, have adopted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as their protégé.

The U.S. provides foreign aid both directly and through contributions to international development funds.

Of the top 10 recipients of U.S. foreign aid, same-sex relations are legal only in Israel, South Africa, and Colombia.

In Afghanistan and Nigeria Gay people may be executed, and in Pakistan they may be sentenced to life in prison.

Most countries eligible for aid under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Program, like Uganda, have dismal records on LGBT rights.

Sudan and Mauritania, for example, prescribe the death penalty for same-sex relations.

The government of Kenya has been accused of deliberately failing to protect LGBT residents during riots that broke out in the resort town of Mtwapa last year.

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