Do the Bretton Woods institutions support African countries with anti-gay laws?

Parliament on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, passed the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill also referred to by many as the anti-gay bill.

The bill, which received unanimous approval by parliament, becomes law when assented to by  President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.

The passage of the bill has stirred a lot of controversies in the country and beyond, with opponents of the controversial bill urging the president not to assent to it.

A private legal practitioner and broadcaster, Richard Dela Sky, has since filed a suit at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the anti-gay bill.

Prominent among the institutions calling on the president not to assent to the bill is the Ministry of Finance.

In a statement, the ministry said the country will lose $3.8 billion in World Bank financing over the next five to six years should the president assent to the bill. According to the ministry, the bill could jeopardise Ghana’s ongoing IMF programme which could have negative implications for key government plans and projects.

The ministry is not alone on the potential negative implications of the bill for the Ghanaian economy. Many have argued that the IMF, the World Bank and other international donors would no longer support the country. These arguments have been fueled by past comments of the US ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer who earlier cautioned that the passage of the anti-gay could have negative implications for Ghana’s trade and investment opportunities.

This has brought about public discussions on whether the Bretton Wood institutions (IMF and World Bank) provide support to countries, especially in Africa, that have passed anti-gay laws. The discussion has also focused on the kind of interventions the Bretton Wood institutions provide in situations where they offer support to countries in Africa with anti-gay laws.

Globally, 64 countries have outlawed LGBTQ+ acts. About half of these countries (31) are in Africa. Only 23 countries in Africa have not outlawed LQBTQ+.

The African countries that have outlawed LQBTQ+ are Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In this report, Fact-Check Ghana looks into recent engagements of the Bretton Woods institutions with some African countries that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

The following are some of the African countries that have passed anti-gay laws and are still being supported by the Breton Woods institutions.


Senegal’s anti-LGBTQ+ proscribes a prison term of one to five years The last amendment of Senegal’s anti-gay law was in 1966. Despite its strong stance on LGBTQ+ rights the World Bank continues to support Senegal.

On January 18, 2024, the World Bank approved an amount of $200 million to support the third phase of Senegal’s Food System Resilience Program (FSRP-3). This is about the latest support from the institution to the West African country. It was aimed at increasing preparedness against food insecurity and improving resilience of food systems in Senegal.

On December 13, 2023, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Senegal an amount of $271.31 million after the Executive Board completed the first review of Arrangements under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF).


Zambia’s anti-gay law, which was amended in 2005, imposes a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life imprisonment for persons engaged in “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” or “permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature”. 

Despite this, the World Bank on December 22, 2023, approved a grant of $125 million to help Zambia restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability and promote private-sector-led growth.

On December 20, 2023, the Executive Board of the IMF completed the second review of a 38-month Extended Credi Facility (ECF) Arrangement with Zambia that enabled the country to access about $187 million. This brings Zambia’s total disbursement under the ECF to $561 million.


Uganda’s current anti-gay law, Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 came into force after it was assented to by President Yoweri Museveni on May 26, 2023. The law imposes a penalty of life imprisonment for perpetrators and up to 10 years imprisonment for any attempt to commit such acts.

Section 3 of the Act prescribes death penalty for serial offenders. The death penalty is also applied when the person against whom the act is committed contracts a terminal illness such as HIV Aids, or one of the individuals involved is aged or a person with disability, regardless of their ability to consent.

The passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 drew global condemnation from gay rights activists and institutions.

In the wake of the passage of the bill, the World Bank issued a statement expressing the bank’s position on the new law.

The bank said the new law fundamentally contradicts the bank’s values of inclusion and non-discrimination.

Immediately after the law was enacted, the World Bank deployed a team to Uganda to review our portfolio in the context of the new legislation. That review determined additional measures are necessary to ensure projects are implemented in alignment with our 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 statement explained further. 

The bank however concluded that “the World Bank Group has a longstanding and productive relationship with Uganda; and we remain committed to helping all Ugandans—without exception—escape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives.”

Less than one week after the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 was assented to by the president, the IMF Executive Board, on June 1, 2023, concluded the fourth review of Uganda’s ECF and released about $120 million to support the near-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic and boost more inclusive private sector.

Also, on March 6, 2024, the Executive Board of the IMF concluded the fifth review of Uganda’s program and released about $120 million to consolidate the recovery from COVID-19 and other recent shocks and support sustainable, inclusive, private sector growth.

The Breton Woods institutions have dealt with Nigeria, which is one of the countries which proscribes death penalty for homosexual activities. They have also engaged Ethiopia and other African countries that have similar anti-gay laws. 

In the wake of concerns over the World Bank’s possible suspension of financing to Ghana as a result of the passage of the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values bill and likely presidential assent, the World Bank has said that it has a long-standing and productive relation with Ghana.

In conclusion, despite concerns about the IMF and World Bank withdrawing support to countries in Africa that have passed LGBTQI+ laws, there exists evidence to indicate that the Bretton Woods institutions continue to provide support to these countries.

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