Cameron’s Threat for Gay Rights

Posted on 01/12/2011

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The UK Prime Minister David Cameron threatened aid recipients a few weeks ago. To say I was upset is a massive understatement. However I took a long walk metaphorically and eventually calmed down, which is why this blog is late (later than planned that is). You see, I started thinking and I put myself in his shoes. The thing is; if I was Cameron I would probably be as arrogant as he was that day. You have to remember that Cameron and his cronies just removed one of Africa’s ‘dictators’ recently. They killed him and even displayed his body for all to see. So if I was David naturally I’d be feeling pretty good about myself at this point. So good, I would make threats like this without realising or thinking of the consequences. I always tell people who make threats in general ‘to back it up with action’ otherwise one ends up looking weak or maybe that’s not such a bad thing in this case. I guess we all wait to see what happens next especially now that Nigeria has passed the anti-gay bill.

The truth is I personally have no problem with gays or lesbians at all. I like green underwear and my mate Pete likes boys. So bloody what? Pete’s entitled to do what he wants do in his own home for example with whoever wants to partake. The fact that I grew up in Zimbabwe, studied and worked abroad for many years perhaps explains why I think like this. Walking down the streets of Newtown in Sydney Australia in my past life has clearly left an impression on me. Maybe I’m just a liberal thinker. Anyway, we have a Shona word for gays and lesbians so that tells me that we’ve acknowledged ‘these people’ in our history. It also suggests that the ‘colonial masters’ came to Africa and introduced various laws, which I might add are outdated in many instances. They themselves fortunately have moved on, changed their own laws and are now in a position to make these ‘no-gay-no-aid’ type threats. Instead of focusing on the threats themselves, I wanted to touch on what we as Africans need to do going forward. If you follow my tweets and/or blog, you’ll soon realise that I enjoy the much needed ‘conversation’. I believe that we need to use opportunities like this to have the discussions about gays and lesbians across Africa – they do exist despite what we believe. We need to openly have these conversations so we can also move forward. Why should we continue to sweep this issue under the rug when we have a local terminology or word for gays and lesbians in our own languages for example? Whatever we do, let us not use Christianity as a reason for not accepting gays and lesbians in our society – the ‘colonial masters’ brought the Bible with them too remember? Whatever you believe is really up to you. However let us acknowledge once and for all that this isn’t the first or the last time, we’ll discuss this sensitive issue. Perhaps this threat is yet another wake up call for us. Mama Africa, let us get our house in order!

What do I mean when I say that – ‘get our house in order’? Zimbabweans have been using this word a lot lately – empowerment. Let us empower ourselves as African nations so we don’t need aid and therefore we don’t need to be threatened by David and his cronies anymore. We have much work to do and admittedly I may not see the fruits of our labour in my lifetime but I can assure you that Africa is richer than most think and we can reduce our dependency on aid if we are willing to make some tough sacrifices now. Let us also have the discussion about gays and lesbians in our society so that they don’t have to meet at ‘special venues’ and have ‘secret meetings’ just to exist amongst us. After all they are also citizens of this African continent just like me. Let us seek to understand the situation for it is and make decisions based on facts rather than misguided misconceptions. It’s time to have that much needed conversation now.

Here are a few points I jotted down initially after I read Cameron’s no-gay-no-aid article:

  1. Initially when I heard about this no-gay-no-aid threat, I just thought to myself – ‘what a misguided thing to say David’! We know that the donkey and carrot trick has been used now for many years but for it to be as blatant as that is just something else – quite disrespectful really. Perhaps this is how politics is conducted behind closed doors of government buildings?
  2. I’m aware of budget restraints due to the current economic situation in the UK. I wonder how much of this threat is aimed at pacifying the locals in the UK.  I just wonder. The United Nations gave the UK a target of 0.7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to spend on aid but the UK currently spends 0.4% of their GDP. Can the UK actually afford to increase current spend to the UN figure?
  3. The donkey and carrot trick won’t work. People can see through all that now. With access to information like the internet and so forth, making such threats and not expecting a negative reaction would be unthinkable. Maybe they (David et al) don’t care either way?
  4. I now wonder if any of the UK allies have anti-gay laws. It would just smell of hypocrisy if some their allies had similar anti-gay laws to most African countries. I wonder where Yemen, Pakistan and UAE stand on gays and lesbians.
  5. Let this be a lesson for Africa! We should never put ourselves in a situation where we are being threatened by anyone like this. We need to fast track our own game plan as a collective group to get our house in order. We are an extremely wealthy continent by natural resources. We really need to find a common way to relieving ourselves of aid and foreign debt in general. We’re already working on ways of becoming much more sustainable but this threat to me is yet another warning shot. Malawi is an example of what we shouldn’t allow going forward. A large chunk of the national annual revenue is derived by grants and/or aid I’m told. If the UK et al withdraw that aid as they suggested or implied when the issue of the 2 gay men hit the headlines last year, what happens to the common man or woman in Malawi who is heavily reliant on government assistance for example? We desperately need to think of people at that level in society when statements like this are being made.
  6. Naturally some of the various leaders and/or government officials have already spoken out about this issue. As one would expect, no one likes to be threatened like this especially in the public domain. Perhaps diplomacy would have been more effective and appropriate here.
  7. Like democracy, it’s been proven that spreading a western type of democracy to perhaps a non-western country doesn’t always bode well with the various local stakeholders involved. Cultural issues need to be taken into account when discussing things like this. This is yet another example where cultural norms need to be taken into account when handling sensitive matters like this. I firmly believe dialogue is important when situations like this occur.

I have had some time to reflect and analyse the situation in its entirety. I only wish that we engaged in the much needed discussion we need to have going forward. How long must we continue to ignore what needs to be discussed? I wouldn’t want my unborn children to question why we never made attempts to address these issues. Perhaps that is part of the reason why I would like us to have a ‘national-African discussion’ regarding some of the issues that have been brought up as a result of David Cameron’s no-gay-no-aid threat. Till then…

Aluta continua…

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