The World Bank has announced its decision to suspend new loans to Uganda due to the country’s enactment of the anti-Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (anti-LGBTQ) law.
The Washington, DC-based institution stated on August 8 that it will temporarily halt project financing while it reviews the measures it had implemented to safeguard 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 WorldBank.
As part of its response, the World Bank will also enhance third-party monitoring and grievance redress mechanisms to facilitate necessary corrective actions.
The World Bank Group had previously stated its disagreement with the law’s consistency with its values in May, expressing profound concerns about its adoption.
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.
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.
In response to the legislation, the United States imposed travel restrictions on Ugandan officials in June. The law was signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has previously labeled homosexuality as a psychological disorder.
Despite international condemnation, Museveni defended the legislation as necessary to counter what he perceives as attempts by the LGBTQ community to “recruit” individuals.
The World Bank underscored its enduring commitment to providing assistance to Uganda despite the temporary financing pause.
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 – escape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives.”
President William Ruto had also assered his stance regarding the LGBTQ community despite the Supreme court allowing the community to form lobby groups .
“We respect the Supreme Court’s decision, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree with it. Our values, customs, and Christianity do not allow us to support same-sex marriages. We have laws that govern us here in Kenya. I want to tell you that will not be possible…it can happen in other countries but not here,” President Ruto said.
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