U.S. foreign aid and loans from the International Monetary Fund are being used as leverage to encourage fair, unbiased treatment of LGBTI people in homophobic countries. But not without pushback.
Consider the case of Ghana, which is troubled about a $918-million IMF loan that comes with a requirement of preventing discrimination against LGBT patients and the health care workers who serve them.
Or, as the Ghana Guardian describes it, “IMF Loan Comes Along With Homosexuals.”
The article calls that a “hidden condition” in the terms of the loan. It states:
“ ‘Agreeing to protect LGBT is a hidden conditionality for the loan to be approved,’ a top World Bank official who pleaded anonymity has stated, adding that, by accepting the loan, Ghana now agrees to be gay rights advocates.
“Consequently, the loan contracted by the ruling NDC government has attracted a number of homosexuals into the country, even though the country’s laws criminalize unnatural carnal knowledge.”
That is a problem for Ghana, according to the Ghana Guardian:
“In a highly religious country like Ghana, homosexuality is seen as an imported foreign lifestyle choice and a moral aberration.
“While churches and mosque have been at the forefront of leading a crusade against what they describe as a moral canker, some human rights activists in the country including top officials in the ruling government consider the subject a human rights issue.
“Unlike in Western countries, where homosexuals practice their act in the open, gays and lesbians in Ghana maintain their relationship underground because of the social stigma associated with their sexual orientation.
“While politicians remain vocal on almost all issues, few in Ghana are willing to take the political risk of advocating tolerance for the rights of homosexuals.”
Last month, the Obama administration issued a rule barring contractors administering USAID foreign aid programs from discriminating against LGBT people in providing services.
The new rule, discussed on Oct. 26 by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, could potentially touch on some of the most sensitive areas of US foreign aid, BuzzFeed News reported. It quoted Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality, which promotes LGBT rights in U.S. foreign policy, as saying that:
“[The rule] it could be used to argue that US HIV-prevention dollars cannot go to organizations that advocate against LGBT rights, such as the religious organizations that ran HIV programs in Uganda while simultaneously campaigning for a sweeping Anti-Homosexuality Act enacted in 2014. (It was later struck down by the country’s Constitutional Court.)”
“Some major foreign aid contractors are faith based, including the evangelical Christian organization World Vision and agencies affiliated with the Catholic Church.
“ ‘The new Obama administration rule has no impact to World Vision because we do not discriminate in our administration of aid,’ said spokesperson Cynthia Colin. ‘World Vision US programs serve the world’s poor regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, disability, or sexual orientation.’
“US Conference of Catholic Bishops did not respond to request for comment.”
Similar incentives have worked in the past, but not without controversy.
In 2014, after Uganda enacted a harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act, the World Bank suspended a planned $90 million loan to Uganda, while European donors and the United States rerouted aid away from the Ugandan government and to non-governmental organizations serving Ugandan people.
The law was overturned on a technicality by Uganda’s Constitutional Court and has not been re-introduced in Uganda’s parliament.
In Malawi last year, Western diplomats could mention Malawi’s reliance on foreign aid as they worked behind the scenes to prop up that nation’s moratorium on arrests and prosecutions under its anti-gay law.
In 2011, then Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom threatened to trim aid to countries that didn’t repeal their anti-homosexuality laws. Instead of leading to positive changes, that threat was roundly criticized as a prime example of neocolonial arrogance.
- IMF Loan Comes Along With Homosexuals (Nov. 3, 2016, Ghana Guardian)
- USAID Will No Longer Allow Discrimination Against LGBT People Getting Foreign Aid (October 2016, BuzzFeed)
- Malawi drops charges against 2 arrested for gay sex (December 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Malawi outraged as West opposes revival of gay arrests (December 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Ending global LGBT poverty – will the World Bank help? (October 2013, 76crimes.com)