Uganda is set to lose its preferential trading status with the United States because of its ongoing violation of LGBTIQ+ human rights through the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
On October 30, US President Joe Biden announced his intention to terminate Uganda and three other countries from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The law gives qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US market.
The countries affected are the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda all due to their undemocratic and poor human rights records. Biden said that Uganda “has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights.”
According to the president, “intensive engagement” between the US and these countries has failed to address concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria.
“Accordingly, I intend to terminate the designation of these countries as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the AGOA, effective January 1, 2024,” said Biden.
Uganda exported $174 million worth of goods to the US in 2022, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative, but President Yoweri Museveni told his citizens that losing this income is not anything to be “over-concerned” about.
“Some of these actors in the Western World overestimate themselves and underestimate the freedom fighters of Africa,” asserted Museveni on X. “Certainly, as far as Uganda is concerned, we have the capacity to achieve our growth and transformation targets, even if some of the actors do not support us.”
World Bank May Resume Loans to Uganda
Meanwhile LGBTIQ+ activists have rejected the World Bank’s plan to implement “mitigating” measures to prevent discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people through its funded projects in Uganda.
In response to increasing pressure from international human rights organisations, the bank announced in August that it would suspend new loans to Uganda due to the repressive Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Victoria Kwakwa, the head of the World Bank for Eastern and Southern Africa, recently indicated in an interview with Reuters that the institution would consider resuming loans to Uganda if the government agrees not to arrest LGBTIQ+ individuals in connection with its programs.
Kwakwa stated, “We have discussed this at length with government. Government is comfortable with that.”
Activists Stand Firm
Despite the conditional offer from the World Bank, Ugandan LGBTIQ+ groups have remained resolute in their stance that it’s not possible to isolate World Bank projects from the broader impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
“We re-iterate that mitigation measures will not work to prevent discrimination and exclusion within World Bank funded projects as long as the Anti Homosexuality Law is still on the books,” said Convening for Equality (CFE), a coalition of Ugandan LGBTIQ+ activists and allies, on X.
CFE emphasised that the law must be entirely repealed before the World Bank can resume funding projects in Uganda.
International Solidarity Against the Oppressive Legislation
In June, over 170 rights groups, including prominent organisations like ILGA World, The Human Rights Campaign, Outright International, and Rainbow Railroad, collectively called on the World Bank to cease loans to Uganda as a form of protest against the repressive Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The law imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts, capital punishment for aggravated homosexuality, and a 20-year imprisonment term for the mere “promotion” or advocacy of LGBTIQ+ rights.