The World Bank has decided to suspend new loans to Uganda due to the country’s implementation of anti-LGBTQ laws, some of which carry the death penalty.
This decision from the bank comes three months after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation that imposes life imprisonment for sexual acts and death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes engaging in sex while being HIV-positive.
The World Bank stated, “Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act goes against the values of the World Bank. After evaluating our portfolio in light of the new legislation, no new public financing will be presented to our board of executive directors.”
This move by the World Bank puts at risk the support for Uganda’s plan to transform its economy and achieve upper-middle income status by 2040. As of the end of 2022, the World Bank’s International Development Association funding to Uganda amounted to $5.4 billion.
LGBTQ rights are facing increasing challenges worldwide, with the Indian government opposing legal recognition of same-sex marriages, anti-transgender legislation being passed in US states, and criticism of pro-LGBTQ rulings in Kenya and consideration of punitive legislation in Ghana.
Uganda’s representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare, criticized the World Bank’s decision as “draconian” in a post on X, the social media network previously known as Twitter, and called for urgent reforms at the bank.
This is whimsical behavior by @WorldBank towards a member state. The values referred to in taking this draconian decision against Uganda are not universal, they are contested. This makes the case for reform of work methods including the board more urgent and pertinent.…
— Adonia Ayebare (@adoniaayebare) August 8, 2023
The World Bank’s engagement with Uganda includes:
- The International Finance Corp., the bank’s private lending arm, committed $170.6 million in investment and advisory services as of June 2022.
- The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, a World Bank Group member, had a gross exposure of $463.8 million at the end of last year.
- Recently approved IDA funding includes $566 million for an urban development program, $354.7 million for a climate and farming project, and $217 million to support women enterprises.
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