Approval for new public finance projects in Uganda has been temporarily suspended by the World Bank in response to the country’s enactment of a widely criticized law criminalizing same-sex conduct earlier this year.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the development lender stated that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the values upheld by the World Bank Group. Consequently, the statement clarified that no new public financing projects would be presented to the bank’s board of directors for approval in the foreseeable future.
This decision comes following mounting pressure from human rights organizations and members of the US Congress, urging the World Bank to adopt a more stringent stance towards Uganda’s legislation, which is considered one of the most severe of its kind globally.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 in Uganda includes provisions that deem “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offense, and it imposes penalties of up to life imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations.
The World Bank emphasized its commitment to safeguarding sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in projects it supports. It stated its ongoing dialogue with Ugandan authorities regarding the issue.
Towards the end of July, numerous members of the US Congress called upon World Bank President Ajay Banga to “immediately postpone and suspend all current and future lending to Uganda” until the law was revoked.
In the aftermath of the law’s enactment, the US State Department updated its travel advisory, advising citizens to “reconsider travel to Uganda due to crime, terrorism, and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation.”
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