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The Intersection of Ghana’s $20bn Debt Deal and Anti-LGBTQ Law

by Rahil M
0 comment

Ghana is heavily indebted to the World Bank and has missed the recent repayments.

Ghana’s Supreme Court will begin hearing a case on Wednesday that can possibly both compromise the West African country’s $20 billion debt rebuilding and test the World Bank’s obligation to help LGBTQ rights.

The court is being approached to strike down legislation that would imprison the people who identify as LGBTQ and rebuff others – family, teachers, and co-workers – in the event that they neglect to inform them to the authorities. On the off chance that the court dismisses the appeal, the World Bank will confront a problem: would it be a good idea for it to keep on supporting the anti-poverty battle in Ghana or defend liberal values.

It’s a choice that is probably going to resound far past Ghana’s lines, starting a trend for how the Bank handles the disintegration of LGBTQ and other human rights universally.

“The World Bank doesn’t want to stop lending because there is such great need,” said Elana Berger, the chief overseer of the Washington-based Bank Information Center, which works with activists to make development finance more accountable. “It’s trying to walk a fine line between carrying out critical development projects and demonstrating its commitment to non-discrimination.”

Ghana’s ordinarily hush finance ministry cautioned in a leaked memo in April that assuming the government embraces the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, it could risk $3.8 billion of World Bank funding throughout the following five to six years; possibly crash a $3 billion bailout program from the International Monetary Fund and hurt the country’s efforts to rebuild $20 billion of external liabilities.

Uganda supported similar legislation in May 2023. The next August, the World Bank stopped new funding to the nation, warning that the law “fundamentally contradicts” its values. However, the Washington-based lender is aware that it cannot be seen meddling in a sovereign country.

It’s worth noting that declining lending to African nations leads them to borrow from China, a geopolitical rival of the US, the World Bank’s biggest shareholder.

In response to inquiries from Bloomberg News, the World Bank said that it doesn’t remark on bills before they become law, adding that it has a “longstanding and productive relationship with Ghana.”

As recently as 2021, the World Bank described the country as a “rising growth star and a beacon of hope for West Africa.” Today, in any case, Ghana is quite indebted. It quit making the majority of its debt repayments over a year ago. Furthermore, the eventual fate of the two – its restructuring and key government initiatives currently depends on the continued support of the World Bank and IMF, which said it would sit tight for the court interaction to “play out” prior to offering any remark.

The World Bank only lends to countries that meet certain standards, such as “environmental and social”. If there is a risk of these standards not being met, the borrower needs to set up relief measures to demonstrate that specialists are ready to carry out ventures that aren’t oppressive or unsafe.

However, as per the World Bank’s anti-discrimination guidelines, anti-LGBTQ laws would elevate the risk.

Allies say the legislation that was passed in February is important to address gaps in a colonial-era law that currently boycotts gay sex in Ghana, yet which has been generally disregarded for quite a long time. It hasn’t gathered as much attention as the laws in Uganda, introduced originally in 2014, which were later revoked after a worldwide uproar including the suspension of a World Bank loan.

Uganda’s law garnered worldwide attention by endorsing capital punishment for “aggravated homosexuality” for certain offences. Having same-sex relations in Uganda conveys a punishment of however much life in jail, yet distinguishing as homosexual isn’t itself criminal.

The legislation seems to be borrowing from Nigeria, which prohibited civil society organizations that were in support of LGBTQ groups in 2014, and from Uganda which increased prison penalties. It further draws from Russia by condemning discourse, Hungary by forestalling LGBTQ discourse and Saudi Arabia by targeting content providers.

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