World Bank halts funding of projects in Uganda over anti-homosexuality law

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. PHOTO AFP

 Citing human rights violations from the recent enactment of the anti-homosexuality law, the World Bank has suspended any future funding for projects in Uganda.

According to a statement from the Bank, 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 categorised as LGBTQ+.

The Bank said on Tuesday: “Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values. We believe our vision to eradicate poverty on a liveable 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.”

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. The US is a key shareholder in the World Bank and has almost always produced its president.

The World Bank said it has been prevailing upon Kampala to reconsider the law.

A team from the Bank, it said, have been speaking with Ugandan officials on “additional measures that are necessary to ensure projects are implemented in alignment with our environmental and social standards.”

“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.  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.

Same sex relations had been illegal in Uganda, even before this law, under the old penal code.

But critics charged the new law seals any possible protections for minorities who may now not be able to rent property as the new law promises punishments to those who conceal homosexuals.

It also provides for capital punishment for serial offenders against the law including those who transmit terminal illness like HIV/AIDs through gay sex. Promoters of homosexuality can be jailed for up to 20 years.


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