David Cameron has threatened to withhold UK aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.
The UK prime minister said he raised the issue with some of the states involved at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. Human rights reform in the Commonwealth was one issue that leaders failed to reach agreement on at the summit.
Mr. Cameron says those receiving UK aid should “adhere to proper human rights”.
Ending the bans on homosexuality was one of the recommendations of an internal report into the future relevance of the Commonwealth.
Mr Cameron’s threat applies only to one type of bilateral aid known as general budget support, and would not reduce the overall amount of aid to any one country. Malawi has already had some of its budget support suspended over concerns about its attitude to gay rights. Concerns have also been raised with the governments of Uganda and Ghana.
Mr Cameron told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that “British aid should have more strings attached”. But he conceded that countries could not change immediately, and cautioned that there would be a “journey”.
“This is an issue where we are pushing for movement, we are prepared to put some money behind what we believe. But I’m afraid that you can’t expect countries to change overnight. Britain is one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights. We are saying that is one of the things that determines our aid policy, and there have been particularly bad examples where we have taken action.”
Mr Cameron said he had spoken with “a number of African countries” and that more pressure had been applied by Foreign Secretary William Hague, who deputised for him during parts of the summit.
Some 41 nations within the 54-member Commonwealth have laws banning homosexuality. Many of these laws are a legacy of British Empire laws.