The House Financial Services Committee this week passed an amendment that would discourage financial aid to countries that are actively seeking to further criminalize or that already persecute citizens on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity.
According to a statement from Rep. Barney Frank [...] who introduced the amendment to the committee, the bill passed with nearly unanimous support. The amendment will be added to a House Financial Services Committee bill that outlines budget priorities for issues under the committee’s jurisdiction. According to Frank’s office, the Financial Services Committee’s overwhelming support for his amendment may lead to support in the Budget Committee and the full House.
The text of the amendment reads: “The Committee urges Treasury to advocate that governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development institutions do not engage in gross violations of human rights, for example, the denial of freedom of religion, including the right to choose one’s own religion, and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
How the amendment will be received should it reach the Republican-controlled U.S. House would seem unclear, but this would be used to put pressure on countries like Uganda, a nation that heavily relies on foreign aid where lawmakers have sort to further criminalize homosexuality, considering the death penalty for “repeat offenders” breaking the overreaching and zealous mandates of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, legislation that has yet to be passed but still lurks threateningly in parliament.
While no doubt welcomed by many LGBT advocates, the amendment would, however, seem to tackle only half the issue: in the case of Uganda, it is widely believed that certain American evangelicals went to the country and stirred up anti-gay feeling by preaching their extremely anti-gay beliefs. This in turn spawned further attempts at criminalizing homosexuality.
With reports that an anti-gay religious conservative from the U.S. recently embarked on a trip to Moldova to help stop an LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance, the necessity of tackling this side of the issue, that is to say people exporting their anti-gay views to more fertile ground abroad, also becomes apparent.
Yet the proposed amendment could at least be a first step in trying to keep foreign governments from further persecuting LGBT citizens.