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World Bank Halts New Loans to Uganda Over Anti-LGBTQ Law

WorldWorld Bank Halts New Loans to Uganda Over Anti-LGBTQ Law

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) laws that include the death penalty in some cases.

Al Jazeera reports that the announcement by the bank comes three months after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation that includes life imprisonment for sexual acts and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined in part as engaging in sex if one is HIV-positive.

The Washington, D.C.-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 World Bank.

The lender will also increase third-party monitoring and grievance redress mechanisms “allowing us to take corrective action as necessary,” it said.

The World Bank Group said in May that the law was not consistent with the lender’s values and that it was “highly concerned” about its adoption.

World Bank President Ajay Banga, who took office in June, faced pressure to respond to the legislation, with 170 civic groups urging “specific, concrete and timely actions”, including suspending future lending.

Human rights organisations have widely condemned the anti-LGBTQ law, which imposes capital punishment for “aggravated homosexuality,” an offence that includes transmitting HIV through gay sex, and 20 years in prison for “promoting” homosexuality. 

According to the report, Museveni, who has referred to homosexuality as a psychological disorder, has rejected international criticism of the legislation, which he has defended as necessary to stop the LGBTQ community from trying to “recruit” people.

In its statement on Tuesday, the World Bank said it remained committed to providing assistance to Uganda despite its pause on financing.

“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,” the lender said.

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