Uganda’s president on Thursday slammed the World Bank, calling the global lender “insufferable” for holding up new loans after the East African country enacted an anti-gay bill that includes the death penalty in some cases.
In a strongly worded statement, President Yoweri Museveni said he was struggling to restrain himself “from exploding with anger.”
The World Bank — which has over the years played a key role in financing ambitious government projects in Uganda and helped build many roads, schools and hospitals — had deployed a team to the country after the law was enacted in May. It determined that additional measures were necessary to ensure projects align with the bank’s environmental and social standards.
“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,” the World Bank said in a statement.
The decision has angered many Ugandan officials, with some accusing the World Bank of imperialism and referring to “the arrogance of some actors” in the West who urge the protection of LGBTQ+ rights.
“Some of these imperialist actors are insufferable,” Museveni’s statement said.
“How, then, are you different from the religious fundamentalists who are intolerant of other faiths,” he said, referring to the World Bank and the West.
The anti-gay legislation, which prescribes the death penalty for some homosexual acts, sets lengthy jail terms for offenses such as the promotion of homosexuality. Rights activists and others have described the legislation as harsh, saying it reflects widespread homophobia in the country.
The U.N. Human Rights Office has said the Ugandan law is “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.