The cost of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia go well beyond the personal toll they take on individuals.
LGBTI discrimination could be costing the world $100 billion annually because of the lost productivity of LGBTI people and their lack of economic output.
UNAIDS researcher and health economist Erik Lamontagne came up with the calcualtion but said it was a conservative estimate because accurate data was not available in all countries.
To calculate the figure Lamontagne correlated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the discrimination of LGBTI people.
Countries with the highest levels of discrimination were the biggest losers the most in economic terms.
‘More than the cost itself, it’s the share of the cost of homophobia that is high. The cost, as a share of the GDP, is disproportionately higher in more homophobic settings,’ Lamontagne told Humanosphere.
‘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.’
Lamontage created a tool to measure how discriminatory laws and social exclusion affect growth, which he called the Homophobia Climate Index.
Discriminatory hiring practices, unequal pay, less education and shorter life expectancies contribute to the fact LGBTI people earn less in potential income. Which, according to Lamontagne, means less money is going toward a country’s GDP.
More money could mean a change for LGBTI people
Countries with harsh laws against LGBTI people lose about 1% share of GDP per year. Togo, Papua Guinea, Iraq and Morocco are some of the countries losing the largest share of economic output.
Lamontage and other activists such as, Peter Tatchell, argue that economic reasoning could persuade policymakers to change their attitude.
‘For those governments that are impervious to the human rights case to end the persecution of LGBT people, some of them might be more receptive to the economic arguments – that decriminalizing same-sex relations makes economic good sense,’ he told Humanosphere.
Lamontagne agreed: ‘The economic arguments are meant to complete and reinforce the human rights argument’.
‘This is one of the reasons why UNAIDS is supporting this work; we have a zero tolerance target for stigma and discrimination, and human rights is at the heart of our interventions.’