After Uganda passed an anti-gay law earlier this year that was denounced by rights groups and others, the World Bank has announced that it will stop making new loans to that nation.
The lender with headquarters in Washington, DC, announced on Tuesday that it would halt project financing while it reviewed the procedures it had put in place to safeguard sexual and gender minorities against prejudice and exclusion in its projects.
The statement released by the World Bank on Tuesday read, “Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank’s values,”
“No new public financing to Uganda will be presented to our Board of Executive Directors until the efficacy of the additional measures has been tested,” the World Bank said
“Our goal is to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in the projects we finance. These measures are currently under discussion with the authorities,” it added.
The anti-gay law, which calls for the execution of specific homosexual conduct, was approved in May. Ugandan officials have been resolute despite worries that partners like the World Bank and others would withhold financing due to the legislation, despite the fact that it has broad domestic support. The financing threats have been criticised by several officials as being improper.
It was not possible to quickly reach Uganda’s finance authorities for comment, who have been attempting for months to obtain additional funds from the nation’s primary multilateral lender.
As soon as he entered office in June, World Bank President Ajay Banga was under pressure from 170 civil organisations to take “specific, concrete, and timely actions,” such as freezing further lending.
Human rights organisations have publicly denounced the anti-LGBTQ law, which mandates a 20-year prison sentence for “promoting” homosexuality and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” an act that includes the transmission of HIV through gay sex.
In response to the legislation, which was approved by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the US placed travel restrictions on Ugandan officials in June.
International criticism of the policy, which Museveni has defended as necessary to prevent the LGBTQ community from seeking to “recruit” individuals and described as a psychological condition, has been rebuffed by Museveni, who has described homosexuality as such.
The statement however implied that, In spite of the most recent decision, the World Bank is still “committed to helping all Ugandans — without exception — escape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives,”
The Ugandan law is “draconian and discriminatory,” according to the U.N. Human Rights Office, who also called it “a recipe for systematic violations of the rights” of LGBTQ+ individuals and others. The United States has issued economic warnings.