World Bank halts all loans to Uganda due to its vicious anti-LGBTQ+ law

Activists hold signs protesting Uganda's "Anti-Homosexuality Act"
Activists hold signs protesting Uganda's "Anti-Homosexuality Act" Photo: Screenshot/Reuters

The World Bank has announced that it has stopped all lending to Uganda because the nation’s horrific anti-LGBTQ+ law does not align with its values.

“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values,” the group said in a statement. “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.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexualiy Act earlier this year. While homosexual sex was already punishable by life imprisonment under the country’s colonial-era penal code, the new law imposes a 20-year sentence for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities” and even bans identifying as LGBTQ+. It makes what the law describes as acts of “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as same-sex relations involving HIV-positive people, children, and other vulnerable groups – punishable by the death penalty. 

In June, over 100 organizations wrote a letter asking the World Bank to stop lending to Uganda due to the oppressive law. In the group’s recent statement, it explained that the World Bank sent a team to Uganda after the law was enacted “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.”

The statement went on to say that World Bank will halt any new public financing to Uganda “until the efficacy of the additional measures has been tested.”

According to Reuters, the Ugandan state minister for foreign affairs, Okello Oryem, accused the World Bank of “picking on” Uganda unfairly due to “pressure from the usual imperialists.”

“There are many Middle East countries who do not tolerate homosexuals,” he said, “they actually hang and execute homosexuals, in the United States of America many states have passed laws that are either against or restrict activities of homosexuality… so why pick on Uganda?”

The World Bank emphasized in its statement that it remains “committed to helping all Ugandans—without exception—escape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives.”

The U.S. has also been reevaluating its work with Uganda. After Museveni signed the law, President Joe Biden called for its immediate repeal, describing it as “a tragic violation of universal human rights.” The White House then pledged to reconsider aid and investment in the former British colony.

“The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of universal human rights — one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country,” Biden said in a statement at the time.

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