Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

World Bank postpones Uganda loan over anti-gay law

Source: Reuters - Thu, 27 Feb 2014 23:44 GMT
Author: Reuters
hum-aid hum-rig
In this 2007 file photo members of religious groups campaigning against homosexuality hold placards during a rally in Kampala, Uganda. REUTERS/James Akena
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

By Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The World Bank on Thursday postponed a $90 million loan to Uganda's health system over a law that toughened punishment for gays, an unusual move for an institution that typically avoids wading into politics.

"We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law," World Bank spokesman David Theis said in an email.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay bill earlier this week that strengthens already strict laws against homosexuals by imposing a life sentence for certain violations and making it a crime to not report anyone who breaks the law.

The World Bank, a poverty-fighting institution based in Washington, usually refrains from getting involved in countries' internal politics or in issues such as gay rights to avoid antagonizing any of its 188 member countries.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, however, sent an email to bank staff saying the bank opposes discrimination, and would protect the safety of all employees.

He said passage of the Ugandan law was not an isolated incident, as 83 countries outlaw homosexuality and more than 100 discriminate against women.

"In the coming months, we will have a broad discussion about discrimination with staff, management, and our Board on these issues," Kim said in the email obtained by Reuters. "Now is the right moment for this conversation."

Homosexuality is a taboo in almost all African countries and illegal in 37, including in Uganda where it has been a crime since British colonial rule.

The bank still has a $1.56 billion portfolio of projects in Uganda, which it ranks as one of the world's poorest countries.

The loan postponement follows the announcement by Norway and Denmark that they would hold back donations to Uganda because of the law. Other donors have also threatened to follow suit, and the United States said it was reviewing ties.

The United States is the World Bank's biggest member.

Western anger over the anti-homosexuality law has triggered a sharp fall in Uganda's shilling currency, leading the central bank to intervene for two days in a row.

The World Bank's executive board had been set to approve the Ugandan health project on Thursday. The money was meant to supplement a 2010 health loan that focused on maternal health, newborn care and family planning. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Related Spotlights
RELATED CONTENT
Related Content
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs