BY MELANIE NATHAN, AUG 10, 2023.
In March of this year Uganda enacted The AntiHomosexuality Act of 2023, (AHA 2023) signed into law in May by President Yoweri Museveni. Throughout the trajectory of the bill, Museveni and Uganda's Parliamentarians have 'thumbed their noses' at all who have threatened global sanctions or repercussions. The World Bank has stepped forward to condemn the viciously dangerous legislation otherwise known as "The Kill the Gays Bill" and is starting to "put its money where its mouth is"...
The World Bank Group released the following statement on Uganda:
“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values. 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.
Immediately after the law was enacted, the World Bank deployed a team to Uganda to review our portfolio in the context of the new legislation. That review determined additional measures are necessary to ensure projects are implemented in alignment with our environmental and social standards. Our goal is to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in the projects we finance. These measures are currently under discussion with the authorities.
No new public financing to Uganda will be presented to our Board of Executive Directors until the efficacy of the additional measures has been tested.
Third-party monitoring and grievance redress mechanisms will significantly increase, allowing us to take corrective action as necessary.
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.
Melanie Nathan, Executive Director African Human Rights Coalition: From our vantage point at African Human Rights Coalition it is important to note that the WBG should take their statement and actions much further - when they say "Our goal is to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination and exclusion in the projects we finance. " WBG should note that the issue at hand is much more than mere discrimination and exclusion. The World Bank must speak out against the violence and robbing of basic freedoms caused by AHA 2023. This law brings unconstitutional incarceration and licenses violence, based on sexuality and gender identity. See REPORT on JULY heightened violence against LGBTQI+ people in Uganda. At this time AHRC is trying to help scores of LGBQI+ Ugandans impacted by the legislation who are in hiding, some hunted by state or non-state actors. There is a massive crisis among Uganda's LGBTQI+ community at this time with many already in forced displacement. Many have been viciously attacked and violated. People have been stripped of freedoms and dignity. They have been evicted, lost jobs, and all means of being able to support themselves financially, leading to homelessness and hunger. With shelters and organizations under attack or shuttered the solutions are few.
So when the World Bank Group says: "These measures are currently under discussion with the authorities," AHRC warns that the very authorities with whom WBG says it is having discussions are not to be trusted to provide authentic information on the current state of affairs for LGBTI people.
WBG must talk to those with lived experience, with organizations on the front lines, and with LGBTQI+ community. The elephant in the room is how is it possible at all for Uganda to assure WBG that it will be inclusive of LGBTQI+ when in fact the intent is to eradicate Uganda of LGBTQI+ people. It is not possible and makes no sense. There is no compromising when it comes to the impact of this law and the harm it is causing. If anyone is giving World Bank a pass, including any activists, to avoid speaking up on the violence, addressing it squarely, then shame!
In other words short of repealing the Act the World Bank must not continue to loan money to Uganda again. This needs to be declaratory. While we are loathe to hurt poverty stricken Uganda's with such severe measures, we cannot escape the reality that over 90% of Uganda's support the 'Kill the Gays Bill,' and hence are complicit in the violent repercussions. This is a majority of Ugandans and hence it is perfectly appropriate for Ugandans - all Ugandans to suffer the result of their country and government's actions when taken to task by international governments, agencies and organizations. NOTE TO WORLD BANK: The truth of the matter for you and all global business which touts and values DEI and the most basic of human rights of LGBTQI+ people, globally and in in Uganda, is that you are obligated to pull completely out of the country until such time as Uganda abolishes the genocidal law that in effect calls for the eradication of LGBTQI+ people. Under no circumstances should a country's sovereignty ( an excuse) serve to place certain religious extremes above human rights, especially where church and state are enshrined as separate in a Constitution. In Uganda the constitution prohibits religious discrimination and stipulates there shall be no state religion. A defiant Museveni came out with THIS bravado about World bank's announcement- and the World bank should call his bluff: