By Thom Chiumia, Nyasa Times
| October 31, 2011
Malawi government and religious leaders says it was unfortunate for UK Prime Minister David Cameron to say that the country and other Commonwealth nations receiving British aid should respect gay rights.
Cameron said after Commonwealth summit that his administration would use the budget support to ensure that human rights abuses against homosexuals come to an end.
Malawi government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati said it was “unfortunate” for Britain to have “pro-gay strings” to aid.
She said homosexual acts are illegal in Malawi and noted that these laws are a legacy of British rule.
Kaliati: Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi
During BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Cameron threatened to withhold UK aid from countries including Malawi that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality, adding that nations receiving UK aid should “adhere to proper human rights.”
“Britain is one of the premier aid givers in the world,” Cameron said. “We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights.”
Cameron hinted that Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana could be the first victims of the policy change.
Malawi has already had some of its budget support suspended over concerns about its attitude to gay rights.
UK Prime Minister’s threat applies only to one type of bilateral aid known as general budget support, and would not reduce the overall amount of aid to any one country.
President Bingu wa Mutharika, who attended the Commonwealth summit, defends Malawi laws for the criminalisation of sexual orientation when he adopted Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s lingo, describing gays as worse than dogs.
He has the backing of Malawi Council of Churches as it argues that while Malawi needed aid, it was against donor countries calling for the legalisation of same sex marriages as the practice was a contradiction with the teachings of God, Malawi’s rich traditions, culture and a threat to the family unit.
MCC chairperson Bishop Dr. Joseph Bvumbwe, Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) chairperson the Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera and Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary Father George Buleya told reporters in Lilongwe that they were not happy with UK position on gay rights.
Bvumbwe said British Prime Minister’s statements were “ unfortunate” and they they regard them as “unacceptable and provocative.”