World Trade

Anti-LGBT Law Could Have Negative Impact on Uganda’s Economy, According to Corporate Giants

On Wednesday, a group of multinational companies, including Google and Microsoft, spoke out against the recent anti-LGBTQ legislation passed by Uganda’s parliament, warning that it would have severe negative impacts on the East African country’s economy. The Open for Business coalition expressed concerns that the legislation, which criminalizes identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, would curb investment flows and deter tourists.

The bill stipulates the death penalty for those who engage in so-called aggravated homosexuality, defined as same-sex relations with individuals under 18 years of age or when the perpetrator is HIV positive, among other categories. It currently awaits President Yoweri Museveni’s signature. The White House declared last week that the bill was one of the most extreme actions ever taken against the LGBTQ community in the world and expressed concerns about it.

Museveni has not yet commented on the bill, although he previously signed a similar law in 2014 that prompted international condemnation before being nullified by a local court on procedural grounds. Open for Business issued a statement stating that the new law would undermine companies’ ability to hire a diverse and talented workforce.

The coalition’s country director in neighbouring Kenya, Yvonne Muthoni, stated in an interview that a provision that requires companies to report individuals suspected of being LGBTQ would place them “in an impossible situation.” She continued, stating that “either they violate the law in Uganda or they are going against international standards of corporate responsibility as well as human rights laws of the countries in which they are headquartered.”

Several of the coalition’s members, including Google, Mastercard, Unilever, Standard Chartered, PwC, and Deloitte, have operations in Uganda. Uganda’s Information Minister, Chris Baryomunsi, was unavailable for comment. According to a 2019 study by the coalition, anti-LGBT discrimination has significant economic consequences, with Kenya losing up to 1.7% of its GDP each year as a result.

Open for Business has previously voiced concerns about anti-LGBT measures in countries such as Hungary, where it criticised a plan in 2021 to prohibit the dissemination of LGBT content in schools.

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