On March 12, The World Bank hosted a panel discussion that provides a new lens to view the impact of homophobia – a view that may be costing the world billions of dollars every year.
Quoting Mr. Jim Kim, President of World Bank: “Institutionalised discrimination is bad for people and for societies, and also bad for economies, therefore eliminating discrimination is critical to ensure that we have sustained, balanced and inclusive economic growth in all societies, whether discrimination is based on sex, race, age, sexual orientation.” Putting human rights aside, why in those regions of the world that has been struggling with poverty, war, lack of education, disease, the government and policy makers need to put efforts in eliminating discrimination? Fabrice Houdart, the World Bank’s Senior Country Officer who also manages a Nordic Trust Fund, points out that conservative views on gender inequality, sexual orientation as well as other forms of discrimination that are sometimes protected by laws become a legal obstacle in the development process, “Excluding sexual minorities is not only a human tragedy but it is also a significant self-inflicted economic wound, and so we at the World Bank need to listen to their voices.”
During the discussion, the participants each gave their views on the findings of a new study. Dr. Lee Badgett took a focus on India, explaining that the cost of homophobia in terms of workplace discrimination (lower payment, job loss), violence, family rejection and pressure to marry, although not all costs can be quantified, can be ranged from 0.1% to 1.7% of GDP. Dr. Qing Wu, Senior Economic Analyst at Google, uses Google queries for gay porn, comparing with the data from Craigslist ads and Gallup poll to show that there are still many people in the closet.
Participants also emphasised the need to acquire stronger data and evidence for further research, in the hopes to educate policy makers and protect marginalised groups.
Link to the video: http://live.worldbank.org/economic-cost-of-homophobia
List of Speakers:
Chair: Fabrice Houdart, Team Lead, “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Development”
Introduction: Satu Santala, World Bank Executive Director for Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden
Dr. M.V. Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar
Dr. Qing Wu, Senior Economic Analyst, Google
Dr. Amy Lind, Mary Ellen Heintz Endowed Chair, University of Cincinnati
Dr. Luiz Loures, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
Tracy Robinson, Vice President, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons, Organization of American States
Dennis van der Veur, Head of Sector Cooperation with EU Institutions and EU Member States, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights
Moderator: J. Lester Feder, BuzzFeed foreign correspondent