The World Bank has declared its intention to halt the provision of fresh loans to Uganda in response to the country’s implementation of the law against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) rights.
On August 8, the institution based in Washington, DC, announced its temporary suspension of project financing. This suspension comes as the institution reviews the measures it had previously put in place to protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities within its projects.
“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values. We believe our vision to eradicate poverty on a livable planet can only succeed if it includes everyone irrespective of race, gender, or sexuality.”
“This law undermines those efforts. Inclusion and non-discrimination sit at the heart of our work around the world,” read part of the statement issued by World Bank, adding that “no new public financing,” would be presented to the bank’s board of directors for approval for the time being.
In May, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, providing penalties as high as a death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality.” It drew condemnations from rights groups and Western countries such as the US who threatened sanctions.
Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law imposes severe penalties including capital punishment for “aggravated homosexuality” encompassing acts such as transmitting HIV through gay sex and a 20-year prison term for “promoting” homosexuality.
Following the passage of the bill, the US State Department updated its travel advisory, telling citizens to “reconsider travel to Uganda due to crime, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation.”
The President of the World Bank, Ajay Banga, who assumed office in June, was under pressure from 170 civic groups to take tangible steps against the legislation, including the suspension of future lending.
At the end of July, several members of the US Congress called on World Bank President Ajay Banga to “immediately postpone and suspend all current and future lending to Uganda” until the law was struck down.
In the face of worldwide criticism, Museveni stood firm in his support of the legislation, asserting its importance in addressing what he views as efforts by the LGBTQ community to engage in “recruitment” of individuals.
The World Bank reaffirmed its unwavering dedication to offering support to Uganda despite the temporary financing pause. The institution emphasized that it has been actively urging Uganda to reconsider the legislation in question.
The institution emphasized, “The World Bank Group has a longstanding and productive relationship with Uganda; and we remain committed to helping all Ugandans without exception cape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives.”
“Our goal is to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in the projects we finance, this law undermines those efforts. Inclusion and non-discrimination sit at the heart of our work around the world,” reads part of the statement, adding that it was in discussion with the Ugandan authorities over the issue.
A statement from the Bank says further funding is being frozen until authorities in Uganda provide adequate policy to protect minorities, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other groups commonly categorized as LGBTQ+.
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