The World Bank has cut off new lending to the Ugandan government, following the enactment of new anti-gay laws.
In May, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law. It criminalises same-sex conduct, with vaguely worded crimes including the “promotion of homosexuality”.
Uganda’s penal code already punished same-sex conduct with possible life imprisonment. However, the new law introduces the death penalty for several acts considered “aggravated homosexuality”, with the prison sentence for “attempted same-sex conduct” being increased to 10 years, according to the Human Rights Watch.
After the law was enacted, the World Bank sent a team to Uganda and determined that additional measures were needed to ensure any projects it supported were implemented in line with the bank’s environmental and social standards. The bank has now concluded that no new financing will be given to Uganda until “the efficacy of the additional measures has been tested.”
According to the latest financial reports published, the World Bank has provided Uganda with USD$5.4 billion in International Development Association financing.
Why is it illegal to be gay in Uganda?
The criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity is a hang-over from British colonial rule, however – following independence – that criminalisation was enshrined in Uganda’s penal code in 1950.
The maximum penalty for same-sex sexual activity is life imprisonment.
There are no protections against discrimination based on sexuality, and there is no legal recognition of same-sex couples.
A 2005 amendment to the constitution strengthened the position against recognition of same-sex couples by explicitly prohibiting same-sex marriage.
What’s the history of homosexuality in Uganda?
Prior to colonial-era invasion and control, same-sex relationships were reported amongst the Bahima people, the Banyoro people, and the Baganda people.
King Mwanga II, the Baganda monarch, was widely reported to have engaged in sexual relations with his male subjects.x