The World Bank said that a decision on a $90 million loan to Uganda had been postponed indefinitely due to the country’s recent enactment of harsh anti-gay legislation. This is the first time the organization has made an executive decision based on LGBT issues.
“We have postponed the project for further review,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed, “to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law.”
Some of the pressure for delay has come from members or former members of the United States Congress. Nancy Pelosi spoke to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to express concern as had Barney Frank and other Democratic members of Congress.
In The Washington Post on Thursday, Kim wrote, “Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies. Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies.” He also sent an email to staff which reads, in part:
These acts of discrimination against a group of people because of their sexual orientation cannot be tolerated. They are against our staff principles that call for treating everyone with fairness, impartiality, and respect.
We should also be mindful that these instances of discrimination are not isolated occurrences: 83 countries in the world outlaw homosexuality; more than 100 countries discriminate against women; and even more countries have laws that discriminate against minority groups.
Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies. And as we know well in this institution, widespread discrimination is also bad for economies.
In addition to the World Bank, Norway and Denmark have announced that donations to the country, one of the poorest in the world, would be withheld as well. The United States has said it is reviewing the situation.
The delay on loan consideration does not mean that the bank has completely left the African nation in the lurch. They still have a portfolio of projects in the country worth more than $1.5 billion.