World Bank suspends loans to Uganda

I believe our efforts are now paying off, although more is needed to avert the current peril faced by LGBT community here as world bank listens to our pleas”.

New anti-gay law ‘fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values’

World Bank President Ajay Banga (Photo courtesy of AP)
World Bank President Ajay Banga (Photo courtesy of AP)

The World Bank has suspended all future loans to the Ugandan government in response to the nation’s recent passage of its harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act, which provides for the death penalty for repeated consensual homosexual activity.

The bank announced: ““Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act [AHA] 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.”

The suspension came in response to appeals from Ugandan human rights advocates, 65 organizations in Africa and 110 groups elsewhere in the world.

World Bank rules require that government programs financed by the Bank do not discriminate against LGBTIQ people. Because of the AHA, Uganda government projects financed by the Bank will discriminate and exclude LGBTIQ people.

The Bank currently has 27 active loans to the Ugandan government, stated Andrew Park of Outright International.

The Bank has concluded that before it can suspend current loans, it must give the government an opportunity to mitigate the harm of the AHA by implementing non-discrimination policies, grievance mechanisms, etc. the Bank will probably take a few months to see if those are working, Park said.

Todays announcement indicates that all future lending to Uganda is suspended, including a series of loans that were to be made in the coming year. An estimated U.S. $400 million in loans have been suspended, he said.

This is the World Bank’s statement:

WASHINGTON, August 8, 2023—The World Bank Group today released the following statement on Uganda:

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.

Immediately after the law was enacted, the World Bank deployed a team to Uganda to review our portfolio in the context of the new legislation. That review determined additional measures 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.

Third-party monitoring and grievance redress mechanisms will significantly increase, allowing us to take corrective action as necessary.

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.

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