Foreign Aid and Homosexuality

“All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that.” -The Dalai Lama

Foreign aid is a hot-topic issue in Tanzanian right now, specifically in connection with the UK’s push for homosexual rights in Africa. A few Tanzanians even asked for our opinions. Today it is illegal to be homosexual in most African countries, punishable by life in prison. Even death. The word on the street is that the UK will pull all aid money unless gay marriage is legalized. In reality, Britain only wants to curb the state-sponsored violence and persecution towards homosexuals. When questioned in the issue, Tanzania’s government representative said, “we don’t talk about such taboo subjects.”

Africa has been under various colonial rule for most of the last two centuries. The people are excited for their new independence. So understandably, anything seen as western coercion, especially before election time, ignites the anti-imperialism fire. They’re fighting for their morals, for financial independence, and simply against western influence. Is it OK for countries like England to demand discussion from countries who depend on their handouts? If imperialism was an attempt to impose a “better” way of living onto a people through a physical presence, then foreign aid with strings attached would be the modern-day equivalent. Should either of these methods be used? Do they work? Maybe. Female circumcision was made illegal in 1998.

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