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Ghana risks losing World Bank and IMF funding over anti-LGBTQ bill

Nearly $7 billion worth of aid could be jeopardized if the legislation is signed into law

Ghana could lose $3.8 billion of World Bank funding if its anti-LGBTQ legislation is signed into law, the West African nation’s Finance Ministry has warned. A $3 billion IMF loan package could also be jeopardized, it claimed on Monday.

The parliament of Ghana passed the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill last Wednesday to toughen a crackdown on homosexual activity. The measure, which now requires the signature of President Nana Akufo-Addo, will impose up to a three-year jail sentence on anyone identifying as LGBTQ. It also criminalizes gay rights advocacy, with a maximum five-year jail term for establishing or funding gay groups.

“For 2024, Ghana will lose $600 million budget support and $250 million for the Financial Stability Fund,” the Finance Ministry said in a policy brief. The document outlined the economic implications of the anti-LGBTQ bill for Ghana’s cooperation with the World Bank over the next five to six years and other international partners, including Germany, which has opposed the law’s passage.

Last May, the IMF granted a $3 billion bailout to the cash-strapped nation after it defaulted on its debt. The IMF program includes separate World Bank financing to help the former British colony’s economic recovery.

“The non-disbursement of the Budget Support from the World Bank will derail the IMF programme,” the Finance Ministry claimed.

“A derailed IMF programme will have dire consequences on the debt restructuring exercise and Ghana’s long term debt sustainability,” it added.

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Wilhemina Nyarko attends a rally against a controversial bill being proposed in Ghana's parliament that would make identifying as LGBTQIA or an ally a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York.
Ghanaian parliament moves to ban LGBTQ activities

Ghanaian lawmakers’ approval of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill has received condemnation of the US State Department which said it is “deeply troubled” by the legislation. According to Washington, enacting the bill would undermine Ghanaians’ rights to free speech and freedom of press and assembly as guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

On Friday, the IMF said it is “closely” monitoring events in Ghana after MPs passed the bill. The Washington-based institution says its policies prohibit “discrimination based on personal characteristics, including but not limited to gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” The World Bank has also said it is preparing a response.

Ghana’s parliament speaker, Alban Bagbin, had previously said that interference from external powers, including the US, against passage of the legislation would not be tolerated. MP Sam George, the bill’s lead sponsor, has also threatened retaliation against international partners if they sanction Ghana in response to the law.

The World Bank suspended new funding for Uganda in August to punish the East African country for passing an anti-homosexuality bill. The global financing body concluded that the anti-LGBTQ law, which makes “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offense and punishes consensual same-sex relationships with up to life in prison, goes against its values.

March 05, 2024 at 08:17PM

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