The Archbishop of Dar es Salaam has asked the government of Tanzania to reject any foreign aid that is conditioned on accepting Western cultural norms regarding homosexuality.
During a November harvest Mass in Dar es Salaam, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo said that “It is better to die of hunger than to receive aid and be compelled to do things that are contrary to God’s desire.”
Western nations “will stop supporting us if we are against homosexuality,” Pengo said, according to AMECAE News.
The cardinal added that “the sin of homosexuality” is “contrary to God’s plan in creation and should not be accepted at all.”
Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania.
The multi-agency Development Partners Group Tanzania reports that in 2011, 33 percent of Tanzania’s government spending was financed by foreign aid.
USAID reports that in 2016, the country received $626 million in aid from U.S. agencies. The largest portion of the funds, more than $200 million, were distributed as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Pengo did not specify the ways in which foreign aid programs might foster permissive attitudes toward homosexuality in the country.
In 2011, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to withhold or reduce foreign aid to countries in which homosexual acts are illegal. Tanzania’s foreign minister told reporters that the country could “do without UK aid.”
In July, PEPFAR and the Elton John AIDS Foundation reaffirmed their commitment to a fund dedicated to HIV prevention and treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa. The LGBT Fund also seeks to address “stigma, discrimination, and violence faced by LGBT people” in Africa, according to a July 24 PEPFAR statement.
Pope Francis has been a frequent critic of “ideological colonization,” and on the imposition of social and cultural worldviews on developing nations by wealthier countries.
In 2015, the pope decried the “new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family,” including efforts “to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.”
Tanzania has a growing economy, but recent surveys have found that more than 75 percent of the country’s population have in the last year suffered food shortages. The country has one of the highest percentages of malnourished citizens in the world.
Pengo, 74, told Catholics in Tanzania that the country should not accept Western attitudes about sexuality, no matter the cost.
“We cannot accept such displeasing things to God; and if we are starving because we have refused to engage in such acts, then we would rather die with our God. Accepting homosexuality is denying God,” he said.