Tuesday, 22 November 2011

UK Aid & Gay Rights: Mad World

A statement is issued by Kaleidoscope Trust - the new UK-based "international organisation to support gay men and lesbians around the world."
They had a meeting yesterday with the Secretary of State For International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP;
"Mr Mitchell said the government did not want changes to British UK aid policy to have any damaging effect on LGBT communities in recipent countries and promised to examine closely the the impact of ministerial comments. He said the government's position had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid or to single out LGBT rights as a condition for aid. Aid levels would not be cut but could be switched in response to human rights violations."
Peter Tatchell also attended the meeting.
An email from Peter this morning is headed;
'UK won't cut aid over LGBTI rights abuses'
His email includes a link to a statement presented to Andrew Mitchell "signed by over 100 African social justice activists, criticising the UK's reported new aid policy..."
The statement says;
"It was widely reported, earlier this month, that the British Government has threatened to cut aid to governments of “countries that persecute homosexuals” unless they stop punishing people in same-sex relationships. These threats follow similar decisions that have been taken by a number of other donor countries against countries such as Uganda and Malawi. While the intention may well be to protect the rights of LGBTI people on the continent, the decision to cut aid disregards the role of the LGBTI and broader social justice movement on the continent and creates the real risk of a serious backlash against LGBTI people..."
Peter Tatchell also reports that at yesterdays meeting Andrew Mitchell "explained his government's aid policy had been 'misrepresented by some media'.
"Contrary to media reports, Mr 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."
Good to hear.
But why oh why didn't anyone check this story at the time and point out it was a distortion of government policy?
Oh hang on... Fagburn did.
It was hardly breaking Watergate - all I did was phone the Department for International Development and check.
Took ten minutes.
Did anyone else point out that the supposed story 'We'll cut your aid if you persecute gays, Britain warns African nations' was an invention of The Daily Mail?
It's days like this I feel like giving up...

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