The British Prime Minister has vowed to get tough on African countries with poor records on gay rights by slashing millions of pounds from their aid payments.
In a sign that Britain is no longer prepared to turn a blind eye to nations that victimize sections of society, David Cameron will tell African leaders they will receive funding “fines” if persecution of gays continues, the Daily Mail reports.
The UK government has already taken steps against Malawi, cutting aid by $30 million after two homosexuals who held an engagement ceremony were sentenced to 14 months hard labor. And payments could be cut further to the southern African nation, which has received $312 since 2008, if it proceeds with plans to bring in tough anti-lesbian laws.
(MORE: Activists Fight Homophobia in Britannia’s Old Empire)
Uganda (due to receive $109 million this year) and Ghana (due $56 million) could also face sanctions if they refuse to drop antiquated anti-gay laws. The possibility that these countries will see their aid slashed seems increasingly likely as Uganda has plans to punish same-sex couples with the death penalty, while Ghana’s president has promised to “check the menace of homosexuality.”
A UK government spokesman said it is committed “to combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all circumstances, in this country and abroad.”
Reiterating Britain’s threat of aid withdrawal, the spokesman added, “We only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty and respect human rights.”
Last month, the leaders of Britain’s three main political parties pledged their support for a new London-based gay rights organization, called Kaleidoscope, hoping to modernize gay rights in former British colonies.
The organization, which plans to leverage the UK’s political clout by encouraging countries to revoke discriminatory legislation, was strongly backed by Prime Minister Cameron who said “I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform.”
Jak Phillips is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @JakPhillips. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.