The World Bank has decided to halt all funding to Uganda due to their recent enactment of anti-gay laws. The World Bank states that they intend to take a more progressive approach to human rights issues.
The World Bank has been in operation for over 75 years and is an international developmental organization that is owned by over 187 countries. Its role is to reduce poverty by lending money to the governments of its poorer members to help improve their economy and improve the living standards for people in these countries. Member states collectively elect a Board of Executive Directors that supervises the operations of the Bank and grants approval for all its loan activities.
In the Articles of Agreement, one of the rules for the World Bank is that it cannot base its decision on political grounds, Section 10 of the Articles of Agreement states that “The bank and its officers shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member: nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by by the political character of the member, or members concerned”.
Furthermore, the Bank is directed to prioritize "economy and efficiency" in its decision-making and to remain unaffected by "political or non-economic influences or factors."
The articles lack precise definitions for these pivotal terms and do not outline the specific standards by which the Bank should determine whether a particular matter ought to be disregarded due to its "political" rather than "economic" nature.
Consequently, this authority rests entirely with the Bank's decision-makers, operating under their discretion.
"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," the bank said in a statement, adding that such measures were now under discussion with Ugandan authorities.
"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," the bank said.
Following the implementation of the Ugandan law, World Bank President Ajay Banga, who assumed his role in June, has faced calls to address the situation. On June 15, 170 civil society organizations appealed to Banga, urging him to undertake "specific, concrete, and timely actions" in reaction to the anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda. These measures include the possibility of suspending future lending activities.
In a statement, Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda who has held office since 1986, conveyed that the country is actively working towards decreasing its borrowing and remains steadfast against foreign institutions' pressure.
The anti-LGBTQ law sanctioned in May, which enforces the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" – encompassing acts such as transmitting HIV through homosexual relations – alongside a 20-year imprisonment term for advocating homosexuality, has garnered widespread condemnation from human rights groups.
Washington revealed its decision to enforce visa limitations on Ugandan individuals it alleges to be involved in "undermining the democratic process" within Uganda, subsequent to the passage of an anti-LGBTQ law in the East African nation.
Protests in SA against the passing of anti-LGBTQ law
Over 200 demonstrators in South Africa gathered outside the Uganda High Commission to protest against the recently approved anti-gay legislation passed by Ugandan legislators.
The protest was organized by South Africa's leftist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, who appealed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to refrain from endorsing the bill as law. Additionally, LGBTQ activists participated in the march, urging the South African government to vocally opposed the bill due to its potential to jeopardize the rights and security of the LGBTQ community in Uganda.
“We are saying to Museveni, leave the people the way they are. It is not our problem, it is not your problem. It is not a problem,” said Malema to the protesters in front of the Ugandan High Commission.
“If Museveni knows what is good for him, he will not sign it (bill) into law. Already we have a problem with Museveni with how he is treating political opponents in Uganda,” said Malema in front of the Uganda High Commission.
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