Wednesday, 12 October 2011

UK Foreign aid policy: LGBT Ghanians need 'more than speeches'

Gay Ghanians come out. Picture ACCRA [dot] ALT
By Paul Canning

Yesterday we explained how a new British government policy of tying foreign aid to a country's LGBT human rights actions has received an enthusiastic welcome in the UK but the reaction of activists in the 'global south' is more cautious.

The story gave the opinions of activists from Nepal, Jamaica, Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria as well as from Europe and the UK itself.

One of the countries widely mentioned in media reports whose foreign aid from the UK is supposed to be under threat is Ghana. This is as a result of a mounting anti-gay campaign.

Not only have LGBT suffered constant media attacks since May, they have also been denounced by politicians and religious leaders and have been largely abandoned by civil society.

Leaders of organisations such as The Ghanian AIDS Commission (GAC) and the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) - both of which are almost entirely funded by foreign governments - have abandoned them. Even the local branch of Amnesty International has publicly abandoned LGBT people.

Despite this abandonment, a group of gay Ghanians bravely publicly came out, one-by-one, 30 September, at a big public event in Accra. They were warmly received.

Mac-Darling Cobbinah, Executive / National Director of Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana, Ghana's sole LGBT rights organisation has reacted strongly to the UK's new foreign aid policy. Here are his words.
"We from Ghana LGBTI community think this is not enough. Cutting down aid will not bring anything other than pain and anguish to the already polarized society or country and LGBTi people will be used as scapegoats for under development in our countries."

"There should be support for LGBTi groups to conduct more education to get people to know and understand sexuality and gender diversity instead of aid cuts. The UK should lead the way by supporting LGBTi groups in these countries to organize more awareness programs and talk shows to get the majority of the people to understand the issues of LGBTi rights."

"As we speak now, the Netherlands embassy in Ghana have said categorically that LGBTi rights are not on their list of priority issues as have other European organizations and groups like the Swedish and the German embassies. More needs to be done to get people to understand LGBTi rights and it must begin now."

"Actions must follow the talks by these great allies of the LGBTi movement in Europe. We also belong to families and have friends who needs food to survive. We cannot live in isolation as LGBTi people but only in a diverse society in Ghana."

"We do not want to leave to Europe for asylum and so want to live here and improve the lives of our people here."

"We need more than just speeches."


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