Britain Tamps Down Its Foreign Aid Threat to Antigay Countries

BY Lucas Grindley

May 31 2012 2:28 PM ET

Joyce Banda

Britain is pitching into a major investment in Malawi's currency but says the aid has nothing to do with the country's new president announcing she wants to decriminalize homosexuality.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said African nations such as Malawi "are on a journey," according to Newstime Africa, which reported on a joint news conference held in Malawi with President Joyce Banda.

"Our aid in not tied to specific progress in these areas," Newstime Africa reported Mitchell saying of LGBT rights. "I think that you’re on a journey just as we are on a journey and that is a journey that needs time to take place … but I emphasize that British support this time is not predicated on that basis."

In addition to pledging that the Bank of England will assist in repairing the devalued kwacha, the country's currency, the Associated Press reports that Britain had earlier pledged nearly $50 million to help stabilize the economy and fix the country's health system.

The aid comes as Banda, Malawi's new president, announced in a national address that homosexuality should be decriminalized. "Indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed," she told Parliament in early May, saying the country's "bad laws" had made its trading partners "uncomfortable."

Other African countries have blasted Britain after Prime Minister David Cameron seemed to imply that his country would make antigay laws a factor in whether foreign aid is granted.

"We are also saying that British aid should have more strings attached," Cameron said during a BBC interview in October. He said the country is "prepared to put some money behind what we believe. But I'm afraid that you can't expect countries to change overnight."

Tags: Politics

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