This is my quick response to Jimmy Kainja’s thought-provoking post and comments discussion about gay rights in Africa and the role of donor organizations.
The brouhaha over African gay litigation is simply overreaction to the very same events that happened in the US and EU countries. Being gay didn’t all of a sudden become a lifestyle de jour in the West.
Homosexuals there went through the the very same types of persecution and human rights violations as those in Uganda and Malawi. The same fear, uncertainty, and doubt, is behind these “laws of the land” as it was in the US, Canada, and the UK.
It’s a journey. The difference is that the West didn’t have the noose of donor countries launching threats (wether justified or not). As Sally points out, it is their right to cancel their funds if they don’t like the policy. Likewise, if the infringing recipient governments have a problem with donor strings attached to the funds, they have a right to refuse the funds. But we all know that’ll never happen. The politicians are happy to dance to whatever brought them and keeps them in power.
Without donor funds, governments will have to be forced to be accountable to the people and their majority wishes. Issues like this would be debated into law or quashed by the wishes/lobbying of it’s own citizenry. But since the citizenry is used in this stupid aid game we all play as pawns… we get to suffer because govs have no laws to stand on.
Sally, good pointing out intent -vs- neglect. Aid orgs exist to fund ‘neglect’ – pure and simple, driven by the guilt of privilege and the superficial need to be seen as a do-gooder (there’s a certain cache attached to that in international diplomacy).** They cringe, however, when Malawi & Uganda start going through the same cultural growing pains they’ve already learned how to manage and atone for.
Africa won’t have the luxury of figuring out these issues for itself and by itself. We will be scrutinized and discussed, vilified & judged openly. Why? Because no one wants to remember that we are 53 VERY young nations that have to grow up at light speed and accomplish in a miniscule-amount of time–what took the west three-plus centuries! You’ve heard it: why can’t Africa figure out democracy? Why are there blood-thirsty dictators in Africa? Why is there famine? Is “Brangelina” and Madonna and Oprah going to adopt all of Africa’s children? Ok, maybe not that last question. The point is, “democracy” and all it entails is less than 60 years old as a concept in Africa post-colonialism. Yet we are expected to be on par with the West in less than a lifetime. The same goes for the intricacies of legislating in a modern world. We don’t have the luxury of time or the cone of true sovereignty to deal with our issues.
The gay issue isn’t going away anytime soon. Just like the tide of FUD over gay marriages in the States, it’s just going to evolves and become as divisive as it was everywhere else in the world. It is the normal course of attempting to litigate morality. Who hear dares to remember that interracial marriages could get you lynched in the United States. Hell, marriage is going a tad far, just being accused of looking at a white girl wantonly meant the end of your days as a black man.
Uganda will go through the steps and missteps of trying to figure out how homosexuality fits into its moral fabric as a nation. So too will Malawi determine its fate within its sovereignty to do do. Maybe Kenya will follow, or Mozambique and Angola. But as every country proceeds with its growing pains, we will have to do so under the global microscope of myopic and unrealistic expectations.
So what’s the solution then? Allow aid orgs to dictate how we litigate because they provide for budgetary shortfalls? Or simply risk the “perceived” shortfall that would ensue and enact whatever laws of the land” we feel necessary to protect our “moral fabric?”
** This is totally my opinion. I am well aware of the different types of aid, and such a blanket statement erroneously blankets them all into one pile.