Did Cutting of Aid to Tanzania Help to Change its Anti-gay Policies?
Cutting off aid to Tanzania may have helped change the country’s tough stance on homosexuality.
In October the governor of the economic capital, Dar el Salaam, ordered the rounding up of all suspected gay people.
Paul Makonda ordered people to report others they suspected of being gay, and within days police received hundreds of reports.
‘If you know of a homosexual, you must report them to a police officer. No one can escape,’ Makonda told media.
Even though African LGBTI advocates protested the move, the World Bank and Denmark cut aid to Tanzania because of its homophobic policies. Advocacy group Pan Africa ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Intersex association) argued the LGBTI community would be blamed and made scapegoats for the cuts.
But in new research, Neela Ghosha of Human Rights Watch found the aid cuts had influence Tanzanian policy. The World Bank decided not to put forward a $300 million education grant because of the crackdown.
The action seemed to work. In a statement the World Bank said: ‘(government officials) assured the Bank that Tanzania will not pursue any discriminatory actions related to harassment and/or arrest of individuals, based on their sexual orientation’.
Even though the government promised to end the crackdown it has not eliminated all its discriminatory policies.
‘The extreme nature of Mr Makonda’s threats – to round up all gay men, subject them to forced anal examinations, and jail them for life – are what attracted international attention, including from the World Bank,’ Ghosha wrote.
‘But other forms of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persistent and pervasive.’
Ghosha pointed out the government banned HIV prevention programs for men who have sex with and the distribution of water-based lubricant for HIV prevention. Authorities also raided meetings of health and human rights group, where they accused activists of ‘promoting homosexuality’.