World Bank to implement LGBTQ safeguards before new Uganda funding resumes

FILE PHOTO: Ashley Karungi 33, a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTQ) community and a single mother of two poses for a picture with rainbow colours at the offices of Rella Women's Empowerment Program, for LGBTQ rights advocacy, after a Reuters interview in Kulambiro suburb of Kampala, Uganda April 4, 2023. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa/File Photo

MARRAKECH, Morocco – 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 over an anti-LGBTQ law, a bank executive said.

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, Victoria Kwakwa, the bank’s head for eastern and southern Africa, told Reuters.

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

“We’re doing all this to clarify 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 be not be arrested,” Kwakwa said, on the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.

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

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

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

The government would need to revise its budget to reflect the suspension’s potential financial impact, a junior finance minister said at the time.

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

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