World Bank suspends loans to Uganda over anti-LGBTQ laws

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Uganda has been hit by financial punishment from the World Bank following the adoption of anti-LGBTQ laws in the country. A statement from the Washington-based global lender said the new Anti-Homosexuality Act which was passed into law in May 2023 is against the bank’s values.

The bank said it believes its “vision to eradicate poverty on a livable planet can only succeed if it includes everyone irrespective of race, gender, or sexuality.” That it said has not been guaranteed in the new law in the East African country.

According to the bank, “Inclusion and non-discrimination sit at the heart of our work around the world”. It said soon after the law was enacted, a team was dispatched to Uganda to review the bank’s “portfolio in the context of the new legislation”. The review by the team, the bank said, required “additional measures are necessary to ensure projects are implemented in alignment with our environmental and social standards”.

“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.

The global lender said its “goal is to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in the projects we finance”. Adding that the new measures are under discussion with the authorities. Additionally, “No new public financing to Uganda will be presented” to the Board of Executive Directors of the bank “until the efficacy of the additional measures has been tested”.

Despite the suspension of funding to the country, the bank said it wants to maintain its “longstanding and productive relationship with Uganda” and remains “committed to helping all Ugandans—without exception—escape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives”.

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