World Bank suspends new loans to Uganda over Anti-Homosexuality Act


In response to mounting pressure, the World Bank has made the decision to suspend any new loans to Uganda due to the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.

In June, more than 170 rights groups, including ILGA World, The Human Rights Campaign, Outright International, and Rainbow Railroad, collectively urged the World Bank to halt loans to Uganda as a protest against the oppressive legislation.

Last month, several members of the US Congress wrote to Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank Group, highlighting the incongruity between the Ugandan legislation and the World Bank’s guiding principles of inclusion and non-discrimination.

On Tuesday, the World Bank issued a statement outlining its stance on Uganda, affirming that the Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the organisation’s values.

“We firmly believe that our vision to alleviate poverty on a sustainable planet can only be achieved if it encompasses everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. This law undermines the very essence of these efforts,” stated the organisation.

The World Bank disclosed that following the enactment of the law, a team was dispatched to Uganda to evaluate its portfolio in light of the new legislation.

The review determined that “additional measures” are needed to ensure the alignment of projects with the bank’s environmental and social standards.

“Our objective is to shield sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and marginalisation within the projects we fund. These measures are presently under negotiation with the authorities,” affirmed the organisation.

While the specific nature of these measures remains unclear, they are presumably aimed at guaranteeing the accessibility of any World Bank-funded initiatives, including healthcare and educational programs, to all Ugandans, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, without prejudice.

In the interim, the World Bank confirmed that “no new public financing to Uganda will be submitted to our Board of Executive Directors until the effectiveness of the additional measures has been assessed.”

Furthermore, the bank committed to enhancing third-party oversight and mechanisms for addressing grievances, thereby enabling corrective actions when required.

In response, Okello Oryem, Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, contended that the World Bank had yielded to “pressure from the usual imperialists.”

Oryem told Reuters that Uganda is being unfairly singled out, as no similar measures have been taken against countries in the Middle East and Asia that also enforce harsh laws targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act imposes stringent penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts, capital punishment for aggravated homosexuality, and a 20-year imprisonment term for “promoting” or advocating LGBTQ+ rights.

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