East Africa Dares UK On Homosexuality

Tanzania, Zanzibar and other East African states have said they will not accept overtures from United Kingdom to grant legal rights to homosexuals.

Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein on Thursday said his government will not abide by demands from Britain to introduce laws to protect members of the gay community.

“That is an issue not acceptable in this society and we are not going to amend or introduce any laws to grant such rights,” Shein told journalists.

The Zanzibar President spoke on a day that Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Mr Bernard Membe and his Gender, Children and Community Development counterpart, Ms Sophia Simba, spoke strongly against the UK’s push for the common wealth to officially embrace gays.

Like Dr Shein, the two ministers said Tanzania will not yield or succumb to pressure of any kind following UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s threats to cut development aid to countries that did not recognise gay rights.

“Changing the law simply because we need aid is next to impossible. We have our values. That is not acceptable; we would rather do without it,” declared Dr Shein.

The Zanzibar President was speaking at a meeting in State House during a wide ranging interview during which he gave an overview of his administration’s performance in the one year of Zanzibar’s Government of National Unity.

In Dar es Salaam, Mr Membe, said Tanzania will not listen to any country that tried to influence its decisions regarding whether to accept the unnatural sex relations.

“We have our own culture and it should be known and understood that we shall not receive any command from anywhere using whatever sanctions to undermine our way of living. UK should understand this,” the minister said at a press conference in his office.

It was the first major statement by the State following recent remarks attributed to Mr Cameron, who was quoted as threatening aid cuts to countries that continue to ban the practice which has taken root mainly in the western world. The UK position was raised informally during the recent meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of State in Perth, Australia. President Jakaya Kikwete and Mr Membe represented Tanzania.

On Wednesday, Mr Membe termed as “dangerous,” the move by UK to tie aid to the gay issue.

UK’s Queen Elizabeth II is the custodian of common wealth club comprising 54 states that were formally colonised by Britain. It was reported that during the Perth meeting, only 13 countries were receptive of the Cameron advances.

Kenya and Uganda have also voiced opposition on the same matter. Officials in these countries said they would rather miss aid than approve gay movement.