The World Bank has postponed an intended $90 million loan to Uganda in light of its passage of the controversial Anti-Homosexual Bill.
The loan, intended to benefit Uganda’s health system, has been put on hold pending a review of the new law’s potential impact on the country’s development objectives.
The World Bank already has $1.56 billion invested in various Ugandan projects, but Gay Star News reported that in the future, the institution intends to be stricter in regards to countries with laws that promote discrimination.
In a piece for the Washington Post, titled “Discrimination by law carries a high price,” World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim states, “Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies. Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.”
He continues, “The economic losses from such discriminatory laws and practices are costly…Legislation restricting sexual rights, for instance, can hurt a country’s competitiveness by discouraging multinational companies from investing or locating their activities in those nations.
“These recent anti-gay laws, and many others that have been on the books for years, are acutely ironic. Just 15 years ago, a small band of gay men and women — largely in the United States but also in Europe and parts of Africa — fought with all their intellect, energy and creativity to expand access to treatment for all people with HIV/AIDS. In 2000, just 50,000 people in the developing world received AIDS treatment. Today, largely thanks to the work of these gay activists and others, more than 10 million people are being treated with AIDS drugs — most of them African.
“At the World Bank Group, we will have a full internal discussion over the coming months about discrimination more broadly and how it would affect our projects and our gay and lesbian staff members. My view is that the fight to eliminate all institutionalized discrimination is an urgent task.”
Since Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law on February 24, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands have reduced their aid to the country, and other nations are reconsidering their own support. Additionally, Ugandan currency, the Shilling, has already weakened, dropping nearly 2 percent in a matter of days.
Gay rights activists in Uganda are objecting to the decisions to cut aid, believing the LGBT community will be blamed for the cuts. The director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Frank Mugisha, posted on Twitter, “We can’t afford to create new victims. We should go after the crazy politicians! Not innocent Ugandans.”