Homophobia in Africa: the White Gay Man’s burden


Brendan O’Neill in The Telegraph
December 9th, 2011

A couple of months ago, singer Elton John and plagiarist Johann Hari wrote an article calling for tougher international action against African states that repress or harry homosexuals. It seems Washington has been paying attention to these increasingly high-profile demands for gay-friendly meddling in the Dark Continent: this week, Hillary Clinton announced that receipt of US foreign aid will be made conditional on a country’s treatment of gays. That is, if a cash-strapped, dark-skinned backwater in Africa or Asia fails to conform to American levels of gay-friendliness, it could be denied money and food and other essentials. One American magazine aptly refers to the policy as “Starving out homophobia”.

If George W Bush ever so much as hinted that US foreign aid should come with moral strings attached – for example, promoting Christian values or discouraging abortion – the outrage in Western human-rights circles would become deafeaning. Yet barely a peep of criticism has been raised in response to the Obama administration’s plan to use foreign aid as a tool of social re-engineering, where the message is effectively: “Embrace gays or you don’t get your dinner.” It seems Western liberals don’t like it when aid is used to try to make Johnny Foreigner more Christian, but they don’t mind if it is used to make him more homo-aware, to wake him from his prejudicial stupidity about all things gay. It seems it is not the moralisation of aid per se that human-rights types are worried about, but rather the question of which moral values it is used to promote: Christian values bad, liberal values good.

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