No, Mr Cameron, no!
He was adamant that Barbados’ position on homosexuality was not for sale and its legislative agenda would be determined at home. – DAILY NATION, November 3, 2011, reporting on Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s response to Britain’s threat to deny aid to countries with anti-gay laws.
My instinctive, almost visceral, reaction to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s reported threat to withhold aid from Commonwealth partner countries that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality was: Why, the sheer effrontery of the man!
Then on reflection, I remembered that this was just an average, ordinary, kitchen garden variety politician who only by the fluke of a barely digestible electoral compromise is today the leader of a once great empire which bequeathed its own punitive anti-homosexual laws to its former colonies, and who has his eyes firmly fixed on the election clock.
This is the same David Cameron who heads the Conservative Party in an unwieldy, spineless coalition government that, even as he seeks to court the gay vote, has quite remarkably been unable to form and articulate his own position on gay rights.
The Guardian noted that the party leader has been assiduously courting the gay vote and that it was fielding several openly-gay candidates at the next general election.
“Last summer,” the Guardian reported, “Cameron offered a public apology for section 28, the controversial Tory legislation introduced in the 1980s that banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools. Cameron voted against the repeal of section 28 as recently as 2003.
“Cameron also predicted at a gay pride event last summer that a Conservative would become Britain’s first openly gay prime minister.” Hmmm.
The publication also recently reported on Cameron’s stumbling over the issue during a video interview with Gay Times magazine, during which at one point he asked for the camera to be switched off as he gathered his thoughts.
It noted that Ben Bradshaw, the culture minister, who is gay, accused Cameron of making a “major gaffe”.
In the interview, Cameron was pressed on why, in light of his recent pronouncements on gay rights, the Tory party’s European MPs refused to support a motion condemning an anti-gay law in Lithuania.
Cameron said he agreed that gay equality was a fundamental right, before going on to add that the Tories usually had free votes in parliament on equality issues.
He said he was unaware of this particular European vote, before insisting that he rarely issues instructions to Members of the European Parliament “to vote in this way or that way because they have their own leader and their own group”.
The newspaper noted that this Tory leader had previously been criticized for pulling Conservative MEPs out of the main centre-right grouping in the European parliament and forming a new group alongside colleagues from the Polish Law and
Justice Party, which has faced repeated accusations of homophobia.
“I’ve tried to have free votes where possible on these sorts of issues but, er . . . I’m responsible for votes here. Sorry, it’s not a very good answer,” he told the interviewer.
Pressed on whether free votes were appropriate for a fundamental human right, a clearly flustered Cameron said: “You’re right, you’re right. Sorry, sorry. You’re right . . . . The two are very different. Sorry.”
According to the Guardian, at a subsequent regular Press conference, Cameron attempted to clarify the issue.
“The point is, in the European Parliament, our MEPs have a general approach of not voting on the internal matters of another country, even if we disagree with the particular law that there is,” he said.
“And I think it’s a balance to get that right, but I can see why, if you believe in a looser federation, if you believe that the European Union should be about cooperation rather than about one nation called Europe, then actually, it does make sense in many circumstances to say: ‘Look, these are internal matters for other countries, rather than things we should vote on ourselves’.”
The poor chap clearly does not understand in his own mind where he stands on these issues but was presumptuous enough to take a paternalistic script to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia to read the riot act to those former British-ruled African and Caribbean states that still get aid from London, as if they were rebellious schoolchildren who had offended against the headmaster’s policy.
While the response from the African continent has been widely condemnatory, the initial reaction in Barbados from the purveyors, practitioners and promoters of the so-called alternative lifestyle agenda was, well, predictable in their myopic desire to frame the issue of the abominable practice of homosexuality as one of a denial of fundamental human rights.
But there is a wider, more insidious movement that wants to link the broad issue of human rights reforms to bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements, effectively wielding a big stick on behalf of the gay agenda against struggling developing countries.
The Barbados Attorney General got it right when he insisted that this country would not be dictated to by Britain or any others when it comes to homosexuality laws.
“As a country, we need to discuss it and make a decision where we want to go,” he said.
“But that shouldn’t be linked to the matter of support by anyone.”
Brathwaite added that the matter was one for discussion by the CARICOM grouping which must “set its own human rights agenda and cannot allow the international community to link its support to matters such as these”.
It would be easy for Britain and its allies in this matter, such as Canada, to pick off individual Caribbean and Africa countries – those in the crosshairs being primarily Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Malawi – but it would be infinitely more difficult to target regional blocs.
Unfortunately, there are some in the Caribbean region who would ignore the inherent hypocrisy of a country and the organization that it purports to lead when both for decades turned a blind eye to the race-based human rights violations in South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Namibia, among others, under the heavy boots of their kith and kin, in order to promote the gay agenda.
There may be some consolation, however, in the observation of a Canadian journalist, that, given the way decisions are taken at these summits, this latest furore may not amount to much, especially the resolution appointing the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), made up of foreign ministers, to “act as custodian of the political values” of the body.
“The record says that only when there are enough loopholes to make the resolution meaningless can a consensus of Commonwealth leaders be obtained on human rights issues,” noted Jonathan Manthorpe, of the Vancouver Sun. “That was true when a human rights agenda was first adopted at the Singapore meeting in 1971 and true again, when attempts were made to strengthen the mandate at the meeting in Zimbabwe in 1991.
“And it seems to be true now with the shelving of the Eminent Persons initiative in Perth.
“The justifications for shying away from anything meaningful frequently revolve around sovereignty. Commonwealth-enforced human rights values would be an intrusion into the country’s political and cultural independence.”