Tanzanian clerics slam threat to link aid to gay laws

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Tanzanian clerics on Friday urged their government to reject western pressure to legalise homosexuality in order to continue receiving aid.

A catholic auxiliary bishop, Methodius Kilaini, criticised British Prime Minister David Cameroon for saying African countries with anti-gay legislation could be disqualified from receiving British aid.

"Such threats are a reflection of colonial mentality. It is better to live in poverty than accepting and legalising practices that are against religious teaching, the law and African culture," Kilaini told AFP by phone.

Cameron made the threat after Commonwealth leaders failed to adopt a recommendation to call for an end to homophobic laws in the 41 member nations at their summit in Perth, western Australia.

Kilaini appealed to the Tanzania government and other African countries to strongly reject or ignore such "unholy" threats.

Sheikh Ali Mkoyogole said Islam was against homosexuality and same sex marriages. "This cannot be allowed by Muslims in Tanzania," he said.

Under Tanzanian law sex acts between men, including between consenting adults are illegal.

The US State Department's 2010 Human Rights Report found that "gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons faced societal discrimination, which restricted their access to healthcare, housing, and employment," in Tanzania.

© 2011 AFP

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