World Bank to Devise LGBTQ Protection Before New Uganda Funding Resumes

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A World Bank Executive said that the World Bank will aim to ensure gay and transgender Ugandans are not discriminated against in its programmes before resuming new funding which was halted in August 2023 over an anti-LGBTQ law.

According to media reports, Victoria Kwakwa, the bank’s head for Eastern and Southern Africa, said that the World Bank project documents will make it clear that LGBTQ Ugandans should not face discrimination and that staff will not be arrested for including them.

Rights groups have said that the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was enacted in May 2023 and prescribes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, has unleashed a torrent of abuse against LGBTQ people, mostly by private individuals.

Kwakwa said this during the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings in Marrakech City, Morocco.

“We’re doing all this to clarify that this is not what you should be doing in World Bank-financed projects and to say you are allowed to do it the right way and you will not be arrested,” Kwaka said.

She, however, declined to give a timeline for assessing the measures’ efficacy and moved on to a decision on whether to resume new funding for Uganda.

“We have discussed this at length with the government. The government is comfortable with that,” Kwakwa said.

When the World Bank suspended new funding, Ugandan officials accused the development finance institution of hypocrisy, saying that it was lending to countries in the Middle East and Asia that have the same or harsher laws targeting LGBTQ people.

At that time, State Finance Minister Henry Musasizi said that the government would revise its budget to reflect the suspension’s potential financial impact, among which are the emoluments of public servants.

The World Bank’s portfolio of projects in the East African country was $5.2 billion at the end of 2022. However,these have not been affected by the decision to suspend new financing.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023, is an act of the Parliament of Uganda that restricts freedom of speech on LGBT civil rights and introduces harsher penalties for certain types of homosexual acts. On March 21, 2023, the bill was read for the third time and was then sent to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for assent. On April 21, 2023, President Museveni returned it to Parliament, which passed it again with minor amendments on May 2, 2023. On May 26, 2023, President Museveni signed the bill.

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