Ghana refuses to grant gay rights despite UK aid threat

11/03/2011 06:37

WireUpdate:  ACCRA (BNO NEWS) -- Ghanaian President John Atta Mills on Wednesday rejected the United Kingdom's threat to cut aid if the country refuses to legalize homosexuality, media reports said.

Atta Mills said the British government cannot impose its values on Ghana. "I, as president, will never initiate or support any attempt to legalize homosexuality in Ghana," he said, as quoted by the BBC.
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The announcement comes after British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to cut aid to countries which fail to respect gay rights. Cameron said he had raised the issue of gay rights at last week's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia.

Atta Mills said Cameron is entitled to his views, but he did not have the right to "direct to other sovereign nations as to what they should do." He emphasized that Ghana's "societal norms" are different from those in the United Kingdom.

Cameron's threat applies only to one type of bilateral aid known as general budget support, and would not reduce the overall amount of aid to any country. Ghana received bilateral aid from the UK of about £90 million ($144 million) during the last financial year, of which about £36 million ($57 million) was general budget support.

Uganda also rejected the threat, with an official accusing the British government of showing a "bullying mentality." Many African governments argue that homosexuality violates religious and cultural beliefs and have therefore made it illegal.

In October 7, a Ghanaian church official warned locals about homosexuality and said it is largely 'caused' by poverty and unemployment. "He said the actors (homosexuals) give their victims fat envelopes of money and assorted gifts to entice them into the act and advised the youth to beware," state-run media reported, referring to Reverend Dr. Bugri Nagbo who is the Northern Regional Chairman of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

The law in Ghana makes consenting homosexual acts a misdemeanor. But lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders (LGBTs) face widespread discrimination as well as police harassment and extortion attempts. Gay men in prison are often subjected to sexual and other physical abuse.

In late July, Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo ordered the arrest of all homosexuals in the Region and tasked security agencies to 'smoke out' all citizens suspected to be engaging in homosexual acts. "All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society," he was cited as saying by local radio station Joy FM.

In June 2010, more than 1,000 people protested in the city of Takoradi against reports of gay and lesbian activities in their city. There are no registered LGBT organizations in the African country.

Some 41 nations within the 54-member Commonwealth have laws banning homosexual acts. Many of these laws are a legacy of British colonial rule.

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