Sexual Minority Rights As a Pre-Condition For International Aid and Their Impact on a Rights Based Approach

Essay, 2017

10 Pages, Grade: 2

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The increasing intolerance on homosexuality in the global south is seen by the global north as an attempt to clamp down freedom of expression and association with regards to development issues. According to Krets (2013) the rising tide of homophobia exposes sexual minorities to persecution and it is not in line with development good practices of fairness and inclusive. The global north to curtail the rising tide of homophobia have strategically prescribed observance of the rights of the sexual minorities as a precondition for aid to the global south. There are implications associated with such a policy in the development arena. This assignment seeks to unravel the implications of using or abusing rights of sexual minorities as a precondition for aid to the global south.

The paradigm shift linking sexual minority rights as a precondition for aid as a policy was as a result to the changes that happened during the Ford, Carter, and Obama administrations (Comstock, 2016). In 2011 President Obama declared that the United States of America aid should be offered to countries that observe sexual minority rights and aid should be cut on those countries that violate these rights. President Obama was backed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who again in the same year called for decriminalisation of homosexuality and also supported the idea of cutting aid to those countries that do not respect sexual minority rights (Comstock, 2016). All these sentiments were based on the notion that the only way to reward countries that respect human rights is to increase foreign aid to such countries. Sexual minorities are those people who are commonly referred to as LGBTI. This is a term normally to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (Armas, 2007).

Demone (2016) in his study to consider the efficacy of international and domestic advocacy efforts for LGBT rights found out that using rights of sexual minorities as a precondition to the global south is a counterproductive strategy. Krets (2013) seem to agree with Demone (2016) that using aid as a conditionality to decriminalise LGBT can lead to backlash and violence against the LGBT community. The two argue that a cut on aid due to LGBT intolerance can lead to popular galvanisation and agitation against LGBT community. Krets (2016) warned that the policy could increase the threat to the LGBT people because the community and the politicians will not accept being starved because of the LBGT rights. Cutting aid on such basis would polarise the environment between the community and the LGBT with possible open rivalry.

Disputing the point raised by Demone (2016) of counterproductive Beyrer (2014) submits that aid conditionality is a counteractive measure simply because most developing countries rely on aid for their socio-economic activities like health and education. These countries will not dare to let their aid be cut for failing to observe LGBT rights, they would rather observe these rights than risk losing aid. However, Krets (2013) further argued that the idea of cutting aid is counterproductive in that it will negatively affect the achievement of MillenniumDevelopment Goals(MDGs) which the United Nations has been putting so much effort on, all along working tirelessly.Nyanzi (2013) also alluded that the precondition is likely to work just like sanctions and embargos do on the general public. It is the general public that feels the pinch than policy makers and this is likely to cause the community to be hysterical against the LGBT community (Nyanzi, 2013).

Over the years, the global north has started accepting the rights of the sexual minorities and there seems to be a paradigm shift to universalise the LGBT rights (Chanika et al, 2013). David Cameron the British Prime Minister and Barack Obama the president of USA representing the global north openly declared acceptance of LGBT rights and declared that their countries will cut aid to any country that do not observe LGBT rights (Demone, 2016). Ironically, the global south is stamping foot declaring that they will not accept aid tinged with gay rights (Chanike et al, 2013). The emergence of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as well as the issue of rights of sexual minorities has seen the world split into two diverging camps over the acceptance of such issues as normalcy (Chidozie et al, 2015). Most countries from the global north are inclined towards and are canvassing for global acceptance of these rights while the global south particularly African states are positioning themselves against the acceptance of LGBT rights. Surprisingly, the American Christian sects are also joining the global south opposing the universalising of homosexuality (Nyanzi, 2013). The debate of cutting aid for homophobia have seen developing countries consolidating their sovereign autonomy and galvanising the citizens into anti-aid mentality (Chanika et al, 2013). The developing countries assert that its better no aid than accepting aid that promotes homosexuality. The global south strongly condemns LGBT rights at all accept for a few like South Africa which have legitimised same sex marriages (Brown et al, 2013).

The issue of rights of sexual minorities emanates from the realisation that the LGBT community is exposed to cruel treatment by the heteronomy community like denial of equal employment opportunity and health care services (Beyrer, 2014). The human rights based approach to issue of development requires for inclusiveness and fairness to all members of the community (Armas, 2007).Buttressing the point of rights based approach to development Chidozie et al (2015) submits that using aid to coerce acceptance of the rights of sexual minorities can potentially bring about positive consequences for public health and consolidation of the struggle against HIV and AIDS. This approach would encourage or entice the LGBTs to come forward and seek health care services. Agreeing with Theis (2004) Armas (2007) points out that the LGBT community is the most at risk community in terms of HIV and as long as they feel threatened and unwelcome they won’t come forward for help. In support of this Muthien (2009) observed that there is at least 21% HIV prevalence on gay men in Malawi who have sex with other men versus only 12% national HIV prevalence. Therefore,the LGBT community should be given special focus to really deal with HIV and AIDS in our communities. As such, homophobia militates against HIV prevention efforts and makes the goal of eliminating HIV and AIDS a pipedream (Brown et al, 2013). In Muthien (2009)’s sentiments, the justification for using observance of LGBT rights as a precondition for aid is to ensure that the LGBT community is incorporated in all national HIV and AIDS programming.

In attempting to convince the global south to accept gay rights, the global north condemns the homophobia tide which is griping the developing world as a deliberate attempt to stifle dissent, to oppress minorities and undermining human rights based approach to development (Krets, 2013). Global south refuting argues that what the powerful nations are doing is cultural imperialism which is packaged as polices to be institutionalised by all countries (Nyanzi, 2013). Western world is trying to shove their values and beliefs on developing countries. African countries view homosexuality as a Western invention imposed on them using aid as a means designed to make them accept and tolerate homosexuality (Muthien, 2009; Krets, 2013). Responding to the accusations levelled against the West by the global south, the global north argue that the issue of LGBT rights is neither a western morality nor culture rather it is an issue of being human (Chidozie et al, 2015; Krets, 2013; Muthien, 2009). Hillary Clinton was heard uttering that “being gay is not a Western invention. It is a reality” (Nyanzi, 2013). The global north maintains that every person must be treated fairly and equal, that universal human values should take pre-eminence over cultural values (Chidozie et al, 2015).

The faith based organisations joining the global south camp view homosexual practices as a sin forbidden by God.According to Chidozie et al (2015) homosexuality was forbidden even in the Bible and those who engaged in such activities faced the full wrath of God. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire sends a clear message that homosexuality is not good in the face of God (Genesis 19 verse 1 - 27). Resonating with the faith based organisation the Malawi Council of Churches viewed homosexuality as foreign and un-African and decriminalising homosexuality is considered as a ploy to entice the global north to invest and do business in Malawi (Krets, 2013). The faith based organisations fear that the acceptance of homosexuality in the world would disturb marriage as an institution. This would undermine and insult the institution of marriage which is celebrated for playing a crucial role as an agent of socialisation as a cornerstone of each and every community (Brown et al, 2013; Chanike et al, 2013).

Krets (2013) alluded that aid might be a very good mechanism to change the narrative of sexual minority rights and there is so much hope that LGBT rights will be accepted by the whole world if aid is used to coerce developing countries into observing these rights. Aid may be used to both policy and public perception even though there is minimal public support in these issues (Krets, 2013). Proponents of this approach like Armas (2007) argue that the approach will empower the LGBT and their advocates to confidently do their activities without fear of persecution. However, Demone (2016) decried that the promotion of sexual minority rights which is characterised by risk practices like homosexuality and promiscuity is likely to escalate the HIV and AIDS infection rate. This will defeat the whole essence of fighting the pandemic. In unison with the claims raised by Demone (2016), Beyrer (2014) warned that human rights education and campaign is being used as a Trojan horsefor promoting a plethora of sexual rights to the children. The human rights campaign would have a deep and long lasting negative bearing on the lives of the children who are being exposed to sexual issues at a tender age while they are not yet old enough to discern on what is bad or right. This is seen as downright manipulation and a systemic cultural imperialism (Brown et al, 2013).

Opponents of rights of sexual minorities raised concerns that the use of aid as a precondition for sexual minority rights is a clear weapon for disintegrating territorial sovereignty and tradition of the developing countries (Krets, 2013; Nyanzi, 2013). Amid such concerns, advocates of LGNT rights also raised concerns that thinning sexual minority rights conditionality on aid has the potential to exacerbate the situation of the LGBT community in developing countries (Chanika et al, 20130. Cementing Chanika’s concern Krets (2013) cited what happened in Zimbabwe during the 2013 constitution making process when advocates for LGBT rights pushed for the adoption of the rights in the constitution. This resulted in the formulation of new laws that do not only discriminate or marginalise the LGBTs but instead criminalise their orientation. Likewise,in 2014 the president of Nigeria signed the same sex marriage ban with lengthy imprisonment despite the threats by USA to cut aid to countries that violate LGBT rights (Comstock, 2016). President Museveni of Uganda in 2014 also passed an anti-homosexuality bill into law further reinforcing and expanding the existing anti-gay law extending it to criminalise lesbian relationships (Comstock, 2016). It is amid such concerns that the LGBT activist plead that the cutting of aid on developing countries for LGBT rights can worsen their situation and prompt further entrenchment of antigay laws.

The use of sexual minority rights as a precondition for aid to the global south is seen with great hope by the global north which could bring positive development in the eyes of the proponents. This initiative is really an unsolicited initiative especially by the LGBT community. While Armas (2007) finds no problem with the LGBT rights, Brown et al (20130 finds issues on them being championed by the global north. Brown et al (2013) and Muthien (2009) argue that LGBT rights are seen as western because they are championed by the global north and in that lies their denial by the developing countries. To elaborate his point Brown et al (2013) equated the case of Somalian women who told MSF to keep its big mouth shut on female genital mutilation. The Somali women disliked their issue to be re-branded as western. Brown et al (2013) therefore warned that sometimes good intentions may not be enough. Muthien (2009) also found the same scenario obtaining in Mozambique where the LGBT community mention that they do not like the Europeans to talk for them but rather all they need is their help for them to stand for their rights and nothing more than that.

Chanika et al (2013) observed that the global north is using the LGBT rights as a deliberate strategy to disorient human rights activists and development actors, delinking LGBT rights from other abstract civil rights. This resulted into a binary approach towards LGBT rights which are widely contested by developing countries relegating the importance of other civil rights (Chanika et al, 2013). The binary approach accentuated the whole debate of LGBT rights and provoked all the anger and vices against these rights in developing countries which are now venting their phobia by installing antigay laws. The adoption of sexual minority rights as precondition for aid policy implies that development focus is now being shifted from all other aspects of human life towards LGBT rights. Thus, Krets (2013) argue that LGBT rights are not even a key development issue which developing countries can invest their time and effort on. Citing United Kingdom (UK) as a good example, Krets (2013) submits that it is perfectly possible to for a nation to improve its development status without really paying attention to LGBT rights. UK proved that it is actually possible for a country to be highly developed without LGBT rights because until 1967 homosexuality was illegal in UK (Krets, 2013).By 1967 United Kingdom was already developed without recognition of LGBT rights. Taking account of such facts what then should motivate developing countries to consider gay rights?

Pursuant to the binary approach raised by Chidozie et al (2013), Clark et al (2004) suggest that abusing aid in developing countries to orchestrate the rights of the sexual minorities results in neglecting other important aspect of development in the global south. Clark et al (2004) maintains that this approach can potentially lead to the isolation and even thedelegitimisation and defunding of some development programmes which matter for developing countries. This could be seen as trivialising some other socio-economic issues in developing countries in favour of sexual minority rights, which could further polarise the environment for the LGBT community.

As alluded before, Chanika et al (2013) indicated that the use of aid for LGBT rights offers politicians and national leaders a scapegoat for failing to meet their obligations in the name of political interference. In support of this view, Kaoma (2009) and Chidozie et al (2013) submit that the global north by championing the rights of sexual minorities to the global south implies that the global north is taking every opportunity to strengthen its neo-colonial and imperialistic interests and possibly maintain a hold on the global south. This notion of neo-colonialism explains why the developing countries are more inclined on resisting the LGBT rights. The interference of the global north on the internal issues of the developing countries in the guise of human rights protection compromises their sovereignty and disturbs territorial integrity, at the same time it’s a disrespect to their socio-cultural values and customs (Brown et al, 2013; Chidozie et al, 2013). Advancing concerns of the global south, Comstock (2016) also notes that the global north wishes to use sexual minority rights as an excuse to interfere with the internal affairs of the global south giving aid to those organisations that deal with LGBT rights. Kaoma (2009) further alluded that accepting homosexuality is as good as opening the door to immorality which is likely to further encourage the spread of HIV and AIDS. In addition to that, Comstock (2016) also observed that the publicconsider HIV and AIDS a result of immoral behaviour and a punishment for homosexual activities of the LGBT community.

Clark et al (2004) contesting the abuse or use of rights of sexual minorities as a precondition for aid on developing countries alleged that the global north has been trapped in the familiar linear project planning pattern of one-size-fits-all approach. Clark et al (2004) maintains that the issue of LGBT rights may be appropriate in the global north yet not appropriate in the global south context. This shows a deficiency in the part of the global north, they are not fully aware of the politics and strategic issues of the global south. By pushing the acceptance of LGBT rights the global north specifically USA and Britain exhibit semblance of hegemony and they assume the big brother posture to the global south (Clark et al, 2004).

Krets (2013) recommends that rather than using aid as a carrot and stick it is prudent to seek dialogue with the LGBT or SOGI activists and try to understand their agenda in order to come up with an informed decision and way forward. Build alliance with all the concerned parties. The global north should also allow the developing countries space to make their own indigenous policies and strategies that facilitate development at the same time preserving their own values (Chidozie et al, 2015; Muthien, 2009). Developing countries are encouraged to fashion their policies in a way that oppose post-independence imperialism and embrace various religious and ethnic groups in their countries (Muthien, 2009). This will ensure peaceful coexistence among the communities and promote stability and national development.


While the global south is contesting the sexual minority rights they do not suggest that the sexual minorities are alien to their countries. What they are contesting is the approach of universalising their rights and the idea of making such rights a very important aspect of development that can take precedence over other development issues. It is this assumption that the global south is now responding by putting anti-LGBT laws into effect. Religious and cultural concerns also influence the response by the global south who are more inclined to common good opposed to the western view of individual good. It is this implication that individual values that should take pre-eminence over the common good which is being contested here. The adoption of the USA 2011 policy of linking aid with sexual minority rights is yet to yield positive results although it is widely shading a shame picture. The policy worsens the situation of the LGBTs as shown by a number of homophobic laws put in place especially by the global south. However, the policy has enabled the LGBT community to come forward and have their issues discussed at an international forum. While it appears almost impossible to achieve positive results in the near future, the policy has established a starting point towards inclusion and fair treatment of the LGBTs. There is high possibility that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may be considered for adjustment to include the rights of the sexual minorities.


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Sexual Minority Rights As a Pre-Condition For International Aid and Their Impact on a Rights Based Approach
National University of Science & Technology Zimbabwe  (Institute of Development Studies)
Human Rights Based Programming
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sexual, minority, rights, pre-condition, international, their, impact, based, approach, homophobia, LGBT, intersex, SOGI
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Nevison Shumba (Author), 2017, Sexual Minority Rights As a Pre-Condition For International Aid and Their Impact on a Rights Based Approach, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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