The 14 year imprisonment of a gay couple in Malawi is beyond despicable. It is a grave infraction on human rights and the Malawi government ought to come under intense international pressure to release the couple immediately.
Having said that, I was completely shocked to see the otherwise brilliant Gay columnist Dan Savage call for the US to cut off foreign aid to the country until the court’s decision was reversed.
Malawi ranks as one of the poorest nations on the planet with extreme child poverty levels and almost 12% of the population living with aids. The country is heavily dependent on foreign aid to keep its population alive and its economy is extremely fragile.
If the US cut off the millions of dollars it sends Malawi every year, literally thousands of people would die.
While Savage and most of the civilized world is rightly outraged at the decision to imprison homosexuals, it doesn’t mean we punish the rest of the country for the crimes of its government.
Bill Clinton and Tony Blair’s UN led sanctions against Iraq killed around half a million children (an act that led two senior UN representatives in Iraq to resign in protest). And while Saddam was a very evil man, the Iraqi population did not deserve to suffer for his defiance of US and UK demands.
I’m sure that Savage would not condone an international economic boycott of the US if it directly affected his livelihood or even life – why should he pay for the crimes of his government?
While I love Savage and his brilliant writing, on this issue, he is way, way off the mark. Sorry Dan, you need to shut the hell up on this one.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.