A former Foreign Office minister has called for an audit into aid money granted to countries which “promote homophobia”, such as Uganda.
Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, questioned the £72.1 million given to Uganda by the UK last year.
A bill which would execute or imprison gays is currently passing through the country’s parliament. Rwanda’s parliament had considered a similar law but Tharcisse Karugarama, minister of justice, declared this week that the Rwandan government “cannot and will not in any way criminalise homosexuality”.
Speaking today in the House of Commons, MacShane said: “Why is DFID [the Department for International Development] sending so much money to countries that promote anti-gay politics?
“And when will our faiths – including the Church of England, the Church of Rome and the Muslim Council of Britain – condemn the new international politics that seeks to oppress gays in many parts of the world?”
In a press release, he said: “I do not understand how these faiths can proclaim themselves as religions of peace and tolerance while at the same time staying silent of a new war of intolerance against gays supported by their followers in many parts of the world.”
He said he had already asked the Foreign Office to make clear Britain’s opposition to the country’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill.
“But now we should go further and carry out an audit of all DFID aid to make sure it does not support governments, faith groups or political organisation which promote homophobia at the global level,” he added.
In December, Swedish development assistance minister Gunilla Carlsson suggested that her country could cut aid funding in Uganda.
In response a parliamentary question from MacShane last week, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs Ivan Lewis said prime minister Gordon Brown had made his opposition to the bill clear to Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.
He stressed the bill was a private member’s bill that had not yet been formally adopted by the Ugandan government but spoke of the UK’s concerns about the impact it would have on gay rights and safety.