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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will State Sponsored Homophobia Cost African Nations Foreign Aid?

Last week Germany withheld half of the $33 million in foreign aid promised to Malawi because of the criminalisation of homosexuality and the restriction of press freedom. On the heels of Germany's decision, the United States is refusing to sign over $350 million in foreign aid to Malawi without further talks about laws restricting "individual freedoms." The Global Fund recently rejected Malawi's application for $560 million.


German Government has reduced aid to Malawi following the latter’s decision to criminalise homosexuality and restrict press freedom.

In a press release issued on February 1, the Berlin government, through its Development minister Dirk Niebel, said they have cut budget support to Malawi by half. Germany had pledged to give Malawi about $33 million this year.

Mr Niebel wrote to Malawi’s Ministry of Finance expressing concern over press freedom and compliance with international human rights agreements.

“Until these concerns have been resolved, half of the envisaged budget support payments to Malawi are to be withheld,” reads part of the press release.

This was in response to the decision adopted by Malawi’s Parliament in November last year to make amendments to the country’s Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality and muzzles print press.
United States:
A planned deal to give Malawi $350 million in U.S. aid will not be signed this week because more talks are needed amid international concerns new laws curb individual freedoms, officials said Monday.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation announced the power projects in January.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Benjamin Canavan said officials from the program - which dates from George W. Bush's United States presidency - and the Malawi government have been working for three years "to develop a much-needed investment for Malawian people in the power sector."

Caravan did not say what was holding up the agreement nor when it would be finalized.

The delay comes after the German government announced it was decreasing aid to Malawi following Malawi's failure to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality, and its enactment of laws seen as restricting media freedom.
African Activist has already posted about The Global Fund.

Germany's withholding of foreign aid involves the decision of Malawi's parliament to expand the criminalisation of homosexuality in November to specifically include sex between two women. Malawi's penal code already prohibited sex between two men and the law was applied in the case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza who were sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour for celebrating their love in what authorities called a traditional same-sex ceremony. The couple were pardoned by President Bingu wa Muthairka on May 30th.

During the trial of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, Reuters African Investment Correspondent Ed Cropley had reported on large amounts of US aid headed for Malawi in the form of infrastructure grants. African Activist analysed the Millennium Challenge Corporation's "Ruling Justly" requirements for those grants.


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