Uganda central banker sees progress in talks with World Bank over anti-gay law

By Andrea Shalal

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Uganda has made good progress in talks with the World Bank over the country’s anti-gay law, the country’s central bank deputy governor said on Thursday.

The World Bank in August halted all new lending to Uganda over the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ law, considered the harshest in the world. It punishes some same-sex acts with the death penalty.

Speaking at the Reuters NEXT conference in New York, central banker Michael Atingi-Ego said that the World Bank statement had caused the country’s currency to depreciate rapidly, although it later recovered.

He said the government has been speaking to the World Bank ever since to understand their concerns.

The World Bank said it was continuing to engage in discussions with Ugandan authorities, but gave no further details.

The multilateral development bank in August announced it was halting all new lending to the Ugandan government, saying the anti-gay law contradicted the bank’s values. It said additional measures were needed to ensure projects were being implemented in line with the bank’s environmental and social standards.

While he would not commit to there being a resolution by the end of the year, Atingi-Ego said the talks with the World Bank were making good progress.

He said previous lending from the World Bank was continuing, but the halt in new fund could become an issue over the longer-term if a path forward was not reached.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court last month took a first step toward hearing a challenge to the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni in May

The court has overturned a previous similar law, and could do so again in this case, a source close to the Ugandan government said.

(Editing by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Mark Porter)