Ugandan officials have strongly criticized the World Bank and Western nations for their perceived “hypocrisy” after the global lender suspended lending for projects in Uganda.
The World Bank’s decision was prompted by Uganda’s enactment of a new anti-homosexuality law, which the Bank cited as a violation of its values. The move has ignited a debate over the balance between national sovereignty and international standards.
Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, denounced the World Bank’s decision as hypocritical. He accused Western entities of adopting a dual approach- lecturing vulnerable nations about democracy on one hand, while penalizing them when they act in ways contrary to Western interests.
Oryem emphasized that the anti-homosexuality law had been passed by the Ugandan Parliament, reflecting the will of the people.
In a bid to rubber stamp its decision, the World Bank released a statement indicating that funding would be suspended until Uganda implemented policies to protect minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.
The Bank asserted that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act directly contradicted its core values, emphasizing inclusivity regardless of factors such as race, gender, or sexuality.
The World Bank’s decision followed a fact-finding mission to Uganda that aimed to investigate allegations of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
The mission concluded that members of the LGBTQ+ community continued to face harassment, attacks, and discrimination in both public and private spheres due to their sexual orientation.
Contrary to these findings, Ugandan government officials contested the reports of discrimination against sexual minorities.
For instance, the Ministry of Health in Uganda issued a statement asserting that the new law did not target LGBTQ+ individuals seeking medical services. Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services, emphasized the importance of providing medical care without discrimination based on gender, religion, tribe, economic status, or sexual orientation.
Ugandan human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo underscored the need for all government agencies to align their actions with principles of non-discrimination.
He criticized the government’s inconsistent response to the law’s impact and called for its repeal to ensure the protection of all Ugandans.
The suspension of funding from both the World Bank and the US-led President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) has raised concerns among Ugandan officials.
The loss of these funds may strain the country’s resources, impacting vital sectors such as infrastructure, health, education, energy, and security.
Uganda’s ongoing efforts to criminalize same-sex relations have sparked tensions with Western donors and lenders, notably the World Bank.
This is not the first time the World Bank has suspended funding in response to Ugandan legislation targeting LGBTQ+ rights.
Former World Bank president Jim Yong Kim warned that such measures could adversely affect a country’s economic competitiveness by deterring multinational investments.