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Uganda faces backlash over anti-LGBTQIA law as World Bank halts new loans

The World Bank – long criticized for “extortionate” debt traps – has at least announced that it will halt new loans to Uganda after the country passed an anti-LGBTQIA law.

Photo by Antoine Plüss from Unsplash.com

No to debt traps; but yes to fighting anti-LGBTQIA efforts.

The World Bank – long criticized for “extortionate” debt traps – has at least announced that it will halt new loans to Uganda after the country passed an anti-LGBTQIA law.

The Washington, DC-based lender would – in particular – pause project financing pending a review of measures it introduced to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in its projects.

“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values,” the lender said in a statement, adding that it believes its “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 lender will similarly increase third-party monitoring and grievance redress mechanisms “allowing us to take corrective action as necessary.”

Earlier, in May, a new law was signed by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, allowing death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and a 20-year jail sentence for those “promoting homosexuality”. Museveni has referred to homosexuality as a psychological disorder, and has rejected international criticism of the legislation, which he has defended as necessary to stop the LGBTQIA community from trying to “recruit” people.

Uganda earlier announced limiting its borrowing. According to the Ugandan central bank, the country’s total public debt stood at about $21 billion in October 2022. This is less than 50% of the country’s GDP.

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