Bully For You

Dear Mr Bernard Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation for the United Republic of Tanzania,

I am writing to you to thank you for your robust response to the suggestion from UK Prime Minister David Cameron that, in future, some of the aid money offered to your beautiful country may come with strings attached, namely an expectation that your government will legalise homosexuality and stop discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

You suggest that David Cameron’s attitude and words are those of a bully.  I cannot think of a more apt description for a man who is prepared to offer you millions of pounds of his taxpayers’ money (£143.6 million from 2009 to 2010, to be precise) in order to help you build a better future for your country.  What a callous and brutal form of bullying this is, and so much more insidious and hurtful than the kind of bullying, both physical and non-physical, that occurs against LGBT people in your country at a local and governmental level.  Because, let’s face it, the latter only affects people who should know better than to choose to be gay anyway, but Cameron’s bullying affects you, personally, and that’s simply not on.  And as for suggesting that you adopt basic human rights legislation for all the citizens of your beautiful country?  Well, who does David Cameron think he is?  35 years of continuous aid giving doesn’t give any country the right to expect that their money will actually improve the lives of ordinary Tanzanians.  Government limos and and private jets don’t grow on trees, and the sooner Cameron realises that the better.

You say that Tanzania is a poor country, which is being targeted and picked on by wealthy Britain.  I sympathise greatly with your plight.  It must be so hard being in charge of a country with few natural resources that you could use to generate income (except for the gold, diamonds, coal, iron, uranium, nickel, chrome, tin, platinum, coltan, niobium, tanzanite and natural gas); and no breathtakingly beautiful tourist hot-spots that you could exploit to support your economy (except for the highest mountain in Africa, the lush beaches of Zanzibar and the world-famous Serengeti National Park).  To have to lower yourself to accept money from such selfish nations as the UK must be extremely galling.  I’m sure you have only done so for the last 35 years because you simply had no other choice, but maybe, if you’ll permit me to make a little suggestion, it’s time to consider asking the Chinese for more help, or some of the oil-rich nations of the Middle East?  They don’t let pesky little things like gay rights get in their way so I think you’d get on very well.

One final point: you say that Tanzania will not be “directed by the United Kingdom to do things that are against [its] set laws, culture and regulations”.  What a wise statement, Mr Membe, for everyone knows that once laws and regulations are set in place they cannot be changed.  Once something has been deemed to be illegal, it can never become legal.  That’s the law.  So even if you did want to change the laws of your country regarding homosexuality so that all of your LGBT citizens could enjoy a free and equal life, without fear of persecution or imprisonment simply for being who they were born to be, you couldn’t.  And, as you rightly point out, the legalisation of homosexuality is against the culture of Tanzania.  So, therefore, it’s a moot point.  In 2007 95% of your citizens said that homosexuality should be rejected, so that’s fine.  We should all accept the opinion of the masses, however bigoted, uneducated and ill-informed they are.  Everybody knows it’s not the job of a government to try to influence and educate its people in order to improve the lives of its citizens, anyway.  What a ridiculous thought!  If you were busying yourself with educating your people to accept gays as normal human beings, where would you find the time to count the aid money from the UK, USA, China, Denmark, India, Australia, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Italy and Saudi Arabia?

So, thank you once again for making your position so clear and for standing up, once and for all, to all those bullying countries around the world who continue to offer your country their money.  Long may you continue to receive money without strings, so that you can continue to discriminate wheresoever and against whomsoever you like.  After all, you might have the right to lecture gay people and tell them they are wrong and sinful, but no-one (even someone giving you £100 million) has the right to lecture you.

Yours faithfully,


P.S.  I am gay, so I’ll make sure that the portion of my taxes that goes towards the UK’s annual aid to your beautiful country is removed forthwith.  Perish the thought that you might have to spend money that has come from a gay person.