General News of Wednesday, 2 November 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron has come under a salvo of attacks over his comments that Britain would withhold aid to countries that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.
Cameron, in a recent interview with BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, threatened to cut aid to anti-gay countries, declaring that nations receiving British aid should "adhere to proper human rights."
Cameron said he raised the issue with some of the states involved at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia.
The comments received bitter criticism from Ghanaians, especially religious leaders, who said the British premier lacked understanding of Ghana's cultural values.
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, the Most Reverend Charles Palmer-Buckle, told a local radio that the country must stand up and uphold its values and not allow other countries to manipulate it.
A member of the Chief Imam's Educational Fund in Ghana, Alhassan Abdulai, also said the Islamic community was appalled by the threats of the British premier and gave indications that "if push comes to shove," the Muslim faithful in the nation would stage a demonstration against seeming plans by the British government to legitimize homosexuality in Ghana.
Minister of Trade and Industry Hannah Tetteh joined the fray on Tuesday, insisting same sex relationships were unacceptable in African cultural set-ups and that no amount of threats would make Ghana stoop to Britain's threat.
Interacting with a section of the media here, Tetteh took a swipe at the western world, saying that it had no right to force its cultural and moral orientations on Ghana and that the government would make its stance clear at the appropriate time.
"Every society has its norms and what it considers to be acceptable. In the Western world, it is acceptable to have gay relationships and even move on to the next level to gay marriages; in our society, it is unacceptable," she stated.
A private legal practitioner, Kwame Akuffo, also condemned the British Prime Minister's comments, describing it as smacking of racism.
He urged African states to stand up against any vile or racist conduct from the West towards them, maintaining that since every country had its own peculiar beliefs and heritage, it was important to maintain one's sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian government said it had no position now on Cameron's comments on homosexuality until it received official correspondence from the British government.
The state-run daily newspaper, The Ghanaian Times, quoted the Minister of Information John Tia Akologu as saying that it was not prudent for the government to comment or state a position on an issue for which no correspondence had been received.
He stated further that the government was guided by the provisions of the country's constitution and would work towards preserving and protecting the rights of the people as provided for under it.
The threat to cut aid to Ghana and other countries first came to light early last month when British Daily Mail newspaper reported that Britain had taken a hard stance to cut aid to African countries which persecuted gays.
The paper quoted Andrew Michael, UK's International Development Secretary as saying that already his country had cut aid to Malawi by 19 million pounds after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years' in hard labor.
Mitchell, one of Cameron's closest allies, also threatened to impose further aid "fines" against Uganda and Ghana for their hard- line anti-gay and lesbian measures.
Again, the Mail, a private newspaper, claimed that during a visit to Ghana earlier this year, Stephen O'Brien, Mitchell's deputy, told Ghana's president John Evans Atta Mills that Britain would cut its aid unless he stopped persecuting gays.
Cameron's threat is said to apply to only one type of bilateral aid known as "general budget support," and does not to reduce the overall amount of aid to any one country.