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As a gay man living in Nigeria, my biggest challenge was choosing between my sexuality and my job.Like many gay men and lesbians in Africa, my choice was between economic freedom and mental imprisonment.This year, Nigeria and Uganda put in place draconian anti-gay laws, sparking a worldwide debate about human rights. Often, as in Uganda and Nigeria, we hear the claim that opposition to official discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is simply a way to impose "Western" values on Africa.These official attitudes have caused significant suffering for Africa's gays and lesbians.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.If the World Bank – which currently lends Nigeria almost $5.5 billion and expects to commit an additional $2 billion in each of the next four years – moved in this direction, other funders might follow. Africa's LGBT people desperately need such powerful allies in their struggle for human and economic rights.
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