There were many positive developments for LGBTIQ* rights in the last decade where Germany, Taiwan, and the US (among many other countries) have recognized same-sex marriage, India has decriminalized homosexuality, Botswana has recognized gender identity as a protected ground for changing the gender marker in the identification documents setting a victory for the transgender community.
Despite many other victories, there were also some setbacks with the increase of the populism and extremist right movements in many countries. Those negative developments were for e.g. with many Polish municipalities declared themselves as “LGBT Free Zones”, the Hungarian government pushed forward the anti-LGBTIQ* laws, Russia adopted the “Anti-Gay Propaganda” Law. Even more, many LGBTIQ+ tried to seek justice for their human rights violations or seek refuge in other countries and escaped their countries where homosexuality is punishable by death.
Having an inclusive and equal society does not mean that it’s only beneficial for a diversified and accepting society but also is beneficial for economic development. In one of the reports from the World Bank in 2014, where India was taken as a case study, it is estimated that due to homophobia India’s’ GDP is affected from 0.1 to 1.7%, or in real numbers, the losses are between $1.9 billion and $30.8 billion.
To make it more understandable, in a country where LGBTIQ+ persons are excluded from society and discriminated that is translated into more poverty, less education, less participation in the workforce, and so on. These have an impact on a country’s’ economy such as more health care costs and lower economic output.
Let’s take an imaginary example: Ivan just graduated from a renowned Business School and goes back to his country in Russia to work for a consultancy company. Ivan is gay ‘in the closet’ and decides to live a double life because it is not safe to be an outed gay in Russia. With his work colleagues and his friends, Ivan acts as a heterosexual and he has to act like this every day of his life. Even dating for him is hard, scary, and not safe. All this pressure impacts the mental health and wellbeing of Ivan and he gets into depression and influences his work productivity. He seeks mental health services, and he is not able to deliver outputs at work.
Now imagine there are hundreds of thousands of cases like Ivan in a country and imagine how costly is that not only for companies but for the whole countries’ economy. In Germany alone, 22% of the LGBTIQ* employees consider “coming out” as a career risk or 42% lied about their sexual orientation when talking to their superiors. All these facts are manifested with anxieties and depressions which affect labor productivity. These are a few of many examples of how impactful is homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in economic development.
Even when few democratic countries moved forward with adapting frameworks for LGBTIQ* inclusivity, sometimes these successes have been not sustainable. These developments came with shifting political powers towards extremist rights governments which have a “domino effect” in other countries and no country can be immune to that. Mainlining the sustainability of the victories has been very challenging.
During the Obama administration, the transgender community could serve in the U.S. military and that decision has been changed during Trump administration with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which marginalized and discriminated even further the transgender community. Or another example is when the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia repealed back and worth the anti-discrimination law that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds. These are grounds for a non-sustainable legal framework that were supposed to protect the LGBTIQ* rights.
Diversity is important for a more efficient organization and Pat Wadors quotes “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become wiser, more inclusive, and better as an organization”. The equality agenda for the LGBTIQ* community should not be seen only as social inclusion and from a diversity point of view, but also as a potential for economic growth. These priorities should be included in the political agendas of any government for an equal society and a prosperous economy.
LGBTIQ* – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and “*” encompasses a list of other identities that fall under the queer umbrella.
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Ash, B. L. (2020, September 21). Inside Poland’s “LGBT-free zones.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-54191344
Victory for Gender Identity in Botswana. (2020, October 28). Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/03/victory-gender-identity-botswana
Boston Consulting Group. (2019, January 28). Nur jedes dritte deutsche LGBT-Talent outet sich im Job [Press release]. https://www.bcg.com/de-de/press/BCG_2019_Jan28_PM_LGBT