The World Bank has declared its intention to suspend fresh loan disbursements to Uganda in light of the nation’s contentious anti-LGBTQ statute.
The financial institution made this known on Tuesday even as it undertakes a thorough reassessment of the strategies it had instituted to ensure the equitable treatment and inclusion of sexual and gender minorities across its projects.
“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values,” the World Bank 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.”
The World Bank Group said in May that the law doesn’t align with its values and that it was “highly concerned” about its adoption.
After resuming office in June, World Bank President Ajay Banga, was compelled to respond to the legislation, with 170 civic groups urging “specific, concrete and timely actions”, including suspending future loans.
The anti-LGBTQ law has been widely condemned by Human rights organizations because it imposes capital punishment for “aggravated homosexuality,” an offence that includes transmitting HIV through gay sex, and 20 years in prison for “promoting” homosexuality.
The US had in June, imposed travel restrictions on Ugandan officials in response to the legislation, which was signed by President Ugandan Yoweri Museveni.
President Museveni has rejected international criticism of the legislation, which he has defended as necessary to stop the LGBTQ community from trying to “recruit” people. He further referred to homosexuality as a psychological disorder.
However, 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.