Research conducted by UNAIDS researcher and health economist Erik Lamontagne finds that homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia have a considerable toll on the world’s economy.
In order to calculate this, Lamontagne correlated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the level of discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people. He found that homophobia costs the world at least $100 billion per annum in loss to GDP.
“The cost of homophobia is higher in more homophobic settings; the more you try to control people’s sexual orientation, the higher the economic cost,” Lamontagne told Humanosphere.
Previous studies have focused on specific case studies; Wire reported that India lost up to 1.7% of its GDP due to homophobia.
Lamontagne’s research is the first to look at the cost of LGBTQ+ discrimination on a global scale.
He calls his methodology the Homophobic Climate Index, which takes into account a country’s legal policies towards homosexuality, “social homophobia,” and everyday derogatory comments.
However, Lamontagne adds that this is still a conservative estimate. He suggested: “These figures are underestimating the real cost of sexual orientation-related stigma… [The] figures would be higher if we could account for LBTI and effeminate men.”
A lack of data on transgender populations also contributes to the conservative nature of this report; Lamontagne has vowed to include them in a new study when more figures become available.
Why does homophobia pose such a threat to the global economy? This is due to a number of factors: a lack of job opportunities; imprisonment; and shorter lifespans, due to mental health issues as a result of stigmas, which can lead to suicide attempts. All of these diminish contribution to a country’s GDP.
Lamontagne’s report provides yet another reason for politicians to make homosexuality legal and to reduce the amount of LGBTQ+ discrimination in their countries. If they are still opposed to homosexuality on moral or religious grounds, these convincing economic factors may persuade them to implement pro-LGBTQ+ policies.
Perhaps Donald Trump should listen up.
Words Liam Taft