Adebisi Alimi, one of BIC’s partners in the Gender & SOGIE safeguard campaign published an article on homophobia’s negative impact on development. He was part of the first delegation of activists ever to visit the World Bank and advocate for Gender & SOGIE inclusion during the 2014 Spring Meetings.
The following is an excerpt:
This year, Nigeria and Uganda put in place draconian anti-gay laws, sparking a worldwide debate about human rights. This debate has also started at the World Bank, whose president, Jim Yong Kim, recently declared that “institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies.”
Kim’s statement has invited criticism and controversy. Often, as in Uganda and Nigeria, we hear the claim that opposition to official discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is simply a way to impose “Western” values on Africa. But this assumes that homosexuality is “un-African.” And, despite the absence of evidence that any given country or continent does not have LGBT people (and ample evidence to the contrary), it is an assumption that an increasing number of African leaders have embraced.
In 2006, President Olusegun Obasanjo, then Nigeria’s president, was among the first to do so. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni followed suit when signing the anti-gay bill into law in 2014. Other leaders, from Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, have spoken in the same vein.
These official attitudes have caused significant suffering for Africa’s gays and lesbians. Indeed, the price of homophobia for gay people in many African countries is painfully clear: legal penalties, social ostracism, and mob justice.
But here is what Africa’s anti-gay leaders miss: legal protections are not only a human-rights issue, but also an economic issue. Kim is exactly right, and research has started measuring the economic costs of homophobia by exploring links between anti-gay sentiment and poverty in countries where laws and social attitudes proscribe same-sex relationships.
See the full article on the Project Syndicate website:The Development Costs of Homophobia