World Bank rules out new loans to Uganda because of the country’s anti-gay law

World Bank building in Washington
The World Bank says it will not consider new loans to Uganda following the country’s enactment of an anti-gay law earlier this year.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
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The World Bank says it will not consider new loans to Uganda after the East African country earlier this year enacted an anti-gay law that rights groups and others have condemned.

The World Bank had deployed a team to Uganda after the law was enacted in May and determined that additional measures were necessary to ensure that projects aligned with the bank’s environmental and social standards.

“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 World Bank Group said in a statement Tuesday.


“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,” it added.

The anti-gay legislation, which prescribes the death penalty for some same-gender sexual acts, was signed into law in May. It has widespread support at home, and Ugandan officials have been defiant amid concern that partners such as the World Bank and others might withdraw resources over the legislation. Some officials have suggested that the funding threats are inappropriate.

Ugandan finance authorities have been trying for months to secure new funding from the World Bank, the country’s top multilateral lender.

Frightened LGBTQ+ Ugandans are searching for a way to escape a new law prescribing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality.’

June 3, 2023

The World Bank statement noted that, despite the latest decision, it remained “committed to helping all Ugandans — without exception — escape poverty, access vital services and improve their lives.”

The United Nations Human Rights Office has called the Ugandan law “draconian and discriminatory,” describing it as ”a recipe for systematic violations of the rights” of LGBTQ+ people and others. The U.S. has warned of economic consequences.

Activists and some academics have challenged the law in court, but it remains unclear when hearings will begin.


Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.