The Ugandan government recently signed an anti-gay bill with a hefty life imprisonment sentence for people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” — the bill also criminalizes those found guilty of promoting homosexuality. The international community condemned the law but one particular organization has decided to take the condemnation up a notch.

 

On Thursday, Feb. 27, the World Bank announced that it would delay a $90 million loan  to Uganda over its decision to penalize individuals for being gay. This was quite an unusual move for an institution that historically avoids dabbling into politics. World Bank officials reported that their decision to delay funding was to ascertain that the projects the loan was meant for were not going to be adversely affected by the law. The loan was meant to supplement a 2010 health loan that focused on maternal health, newborn care and family planning in the nation.

 

The move by the World Bank immediately follows a similar announcement by Norway and Denmark to freeze or change aid programs for Uganda. Other donors have also threatened to follow suit, and the United States, World Bank’s biggest member, has stated that it would be reviewing “all dimensions of US engagement with the country, including its aid budget to Uganda.”

 

Western anger over the anti-gay law triggered a sharp fall in Uganda’s shilling currency, prompting the central bank to intervene for two straight days.

 

The Ugandan government spoke against the World Bank postponing the loan, calling it blackmail. On his twitter page, the Spokesperson for the Ugandan government, Ofwono Opondo, stated that “World Bank is a multi-lateral institution that should not blackmail its members however small.” He further stated that “As always, Uganda government will live within national resource means by prioritising sectors and possible re-allocation.”

 

 

Do you think the World Bank and donor countries are justified in refusing to send aid to Uganda? Please, share your thoughts with us below or tweet me @LindaAmaechi.