Britain's Secretary of State for International Development,
Andrew Mitchell MP, has clarified that the government will not cut
aid to anti-gay countries, but re-direct it away from "abusive
The reassurance comes after over 100 African activists lobbied the
UK with a petition.
The presentation of the African statement to the International
Development Minister was made by Peter Tatchell at a meeting at the
headquarters of the UK Department for International Development in
London on Monday 21 November.
The Kaleidoscope Trust, Justice for Gay Africans, the
International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Stonewall were also
Tatchell urged the International Development Minister to "heed the
concerns of grassroots LGBTI and human rights advocates in
developing countries" and to work to "empower them."
Mitchell promised to give the African activists statement careful
It has been widely reported in the media that the UK government
was planning to cut aid to regimes that abuse LGBTI rights.
But, at the meeting, Mitchell said that his government's aid
policy had been "misrepresented by some media".
He added that the UK government has not threatened to cut aid but
has said it would "channel it in new directions" if recipient
governments failed to meet four requirements: reduce poverty,
adhere to human rights, demonstrate good financial management and
show accountability to their citizens.
In the case of countries that violate human rights, Britain is, he
said, committed to maintain aid but divert it from abusive central
governments to good practice ngos, civil society organisations and
local government bodies, as it has done in Malawi. There would be
no net reduction in aid, he pledged.
Contrary to media reports, Mitchell confirmed that this aid
conditionality was never primarily based on a recipient
government's respect for LGBTI rights. Human rights adherence is
one of the four pillars of UK aid conditionality and LGBTI rights
is just one dimension of respect for human rights, he said.
Commenting on the International Development Minister's
clarifications, 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
"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," noted Tatchell.