KAMPALA, (UG): President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday accused World Bank of using money to try to “coerce” the government over its controversial anti-gay legislation.
The President’s comments followed an announcement by the US-based global lender on Tuesday that it was suspending new loans to the East African country over what they considered to be among the world’s harshest laws targeting LGBTQ communities.
In a statement that attracted global concern, World Bank said that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act “fundamentally contradicts” the institution’s values and that no new public financing would be presented to its board of directors for approval for the time being.
However, speaking out in reiteration with the World Bank statement, H.E. Museveni, who signed the country’s Anti-Gay Law in May, posted via X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday saying; “Ugandans will develop with or without loans”.
“It is therefore unfortunate that the World Bank and other actors dare to want to coerce us into abandoning our faith, culture, principles and sovereignty, using money,” Mr Museveni who has been in power since 1986, said.
“We do not need pressure from anybody to know how to solve problems in our society,” he emphasized in a handwritten statement.
According to President Museveni, Uganda will continue discussions with the World Bank “so that they and we avoid this diversion if possible”.
The United Nations, foreign governments including the United States, and global rights groups have condemned the new law, which contains provisions making “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offence and imposes penalties for consensual same-sex relations of up to life in prison.
In May, US President Joe Biden called for the immediate repeal of the measures he branded “a tragic violation of universal human rights” and threatened to cut aid and investment in Uganda.
But the government has remained defiant and the legislation has broad support in the conservative majority Christian country, where lawmakers have defended the measures as a necessary bulwark against alleged Western immorality.
Earlier on Wednesday, Minister Chris Baryomunsi ( INCT & National Guidance) revealed that consultations were ongoing with the World Bank following a statement which according to rights activists threatened the country’s development going forward.
Similarly, the Health Ministry which among others is one of the recipients of the World Bank funds reassured the public that no one would be denied medical services despite halted funding from the Washington, DC-based lender.
The ministry said in a statement that healthcare providers and workers were “not to discriminate, stigmatise any individual who seeks health care for any reason, gender, religion, tribe, economic or social status or sexual orientation”.
Rights campaigners had voiced concerns that following the new law, healthcare providers could report to the police members of the LGBTQ community seeking medical care, or that people would be wary of going to hospital for fear of being stigmatised.