Saturday, March 15, 2014

Homophobia Costs India An Estimated $31 Billion Annually

I regularly state that homophobia carries an economic cost, especially when the homophobia is government sponsored.  It is a reality that the Republican Party of Virginia refuses to want to hear and it does cost jobs and lost business relocations and/or expansions.  Just ask Arizona Governor Jan Brewer about the economic shit storm that SB1062 brought down on her state.  But the costs apply to entire nations as well.  Some of these anti-gay countries seem to reveal in their ignorance and backwardness - Uganda and Nigeria are two such examples.  But India is another matter as it seeks to become a world economic power.  Yet, a new World Bank study has found that India's homophobia which is back in the forefront is costing the nation $31 billion - yes, billion with a "B."  BuzzFeed has details.  Here are some excerpts:

Homophobia has an annual cost to India of $31 billion or more, according to a draft report presented Wednesday at a forum at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

This number is just a rough estimate, since economists lack the data to make a firm calculation. But the fact that the question is being asked by an institution like the World Bank is more significant than the number itself. If development institutions decide to make LGBT rights a priority — and could shape the billions of dollars that flow through them every year — LGBT rights advocates could have far more powerful allies than those they’ve won in institutions devoted to human rights.

The World Bank isn’t the first such institution at the table: The United States Agency for International Development (US AID), the United Nations Development Program, and the development agencies of several European governments already have been working on LGBT rights. But the World Bank’s size and reach mean it has the power to shift the global development agenda — it lends more than $35 billion annually, and serves as an important research hub for the development community.

Having a discussion about LGBT inclusion at the World Bank “may have a huge impact … for mainstreaming the issue,” said Luiz Loures, assistant secretary general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of UNAIDS, who traveled from India to participate in the panel discussion, which was moderated by BuzzFeed. Organizations like his only get so far by making the human rights and public health case; people like Loures believe framing the issue in terms of dollars could tip the balance. 

[T]he Indian economy lost the equivalent of anywhere between 0.1 and 1.7 percent of its GDP. This is likely a “conservative” figure, Badgett said, and it is significant even in this range. “You reduce GDP by that much and you call it a recession,” she remarked.

Badgett factored in several ways that homophobia costs a society. The most visible may be increased health costs: If stigma keeps LGBT people from accessing health services, there may have higher rates of HIV and AIDS. But stigma also can contribute to a greater burden of depression and other mental illness, which can make LGBT workers even less productive. And if discrimination keeps LGBT people from working or forces them into lower-paying jobs, the economy loses the full value of their labor.
[I]t is still an open question of how far the Bank is ready to go in embracing this agenda. On February 27, the Bank suspended a $90 million health care loan to Uganda just after it enacted a bill imposing up to a life sentence for homosexuality and criminalizing LGBT advocacy. The Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, also published an op-ed in The Washington Post declaring that discrimination against LGBT people — like other forms of discrimination — are “bad for people and societies” and “bad for economies.”  

 “Whether you want it or not, the World Bank … has an impact on the lives of sexual minorities” in the countries in which it invests. “Working with the World Bank does not mean adopting everything that the World Bank is doing. But it means taking basically the share [that] belongs to you within the World Bank[’s work].”

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