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'Should we enforce gay rights in Africa?'

FUTURE?: Gay couple in Africa

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to answer the question...

YES
TOM WHITER

DAVID CAMERON’S recent comments that countries receiving British aid should respect gay rights, left Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham stressing that Britain would not force pro-gay laws upon African governments.

Fair enough, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to make African countries do more. There is a difference between making aid conditional on laws we'd like to see enacted and punishing bigotry and injustice by removing our support. I'm simply talking about acceptance and tolerance.

Homophobia across Africa is rife. A bill is currently going through the Ugandan parliament that proposes the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. Police in Malawi actively hunt gay activists, and punishments doled out include 14 years hard labour in work camps. I could go on. Facing such pressures, it's clear being gay isn't a choice, or you would have changed your mind by now.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it best: “We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about: our very skins. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given.”

Cutting the aid budget is out of the question. George Osborne has, quite rightly, ring-fenced our international contribution. But the Chancellor also talked about getting better value for money in tough economic times. The £70 million Uganda will receive this year deserves to go to a country that wants to help its citizens, not one that's about to try and put its homosexual community to death.

It's easy to forget that it was Britain's political pressure in the nineteenth century that helped force the abolition of the slave trade across much of Europe and Africa, where over 50 leaders signed anti-slavery treaties.

The colonial hangover means we are rightly questioned when we try to impose our ideas on other countries. Ironically, many of the laws banning homosexual acts are a legacy of British rule. It's easy to get bogged down in religion, traditions and cultural differences, but the fact is, this is about standing up for minorities and human rights, and nothing else.

Gay bashing isn't cultural, it's discrimination. In the global community in which we live, Britain has a responsibility to speak out and act accordingly.

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NO
CHRISTINAH ADEGASOYE

ENFORCING GAY rights in Africa is an absolute infringement of political and religious power. David Cameron threatening to cut aid to African countries that do not overturn a ban on homosexuality is not only eroding the sovereignty of that nation but the will of the people. He is simply blackmailing countries in need of aid, nothing more and nothing less.

I am sick of the bullying nature of the European Union, trying to force their morally inferior ways on other countries. Wasn’t it David Cameron who said Britain needs a ‘moral renewal’? If the moral renewal he had in mind was bullying poor countries into his beliefs then it is absolutely irresponsible.

Forty-eight percent of Africa’s one billion inhabitants are Christian, and 41 percent are Muslim. They do not permit homosexuality and their rejection of gay rights is based on religious and cultural traditions.

The reason westernised countries have enforced gay rights is because they want to adhere to human rights, so if this is the case infringing their religious values are an invasion on their human rights too. Double standard if you ask me.

‘Homosexuals’ aren’t part of their cultural language. It is often said that a word that doesn’t exist in a society isn’t a reality in that society! Homosexuality is deemed as a westernised concept and should not be interfered with stringent values, so why should the majority of Africans adhere? I say, if the collective do not want it, do not impose it.

The African society is structured around family life and values; the inability of homosexuals to naturally produce children is seen as an abnormality and fundamental threat to the survival of the African way of life. If everyone were gay, how would we be able to procreate? It is a taboo and an abomination to others.

If David Cameron is so sincere about enforcing gay rights, he should open his borders for them to find safety and security in the land of Great Britain. That is all.

*THE 'HEAD TO HEAD''COLUMN IS BY THE LONDON 360 REPORTERS
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