This number is just a rough estimate, since economists lack the data to make a firm calculation, reports buzzfeed.com.
But making the economic case for promoting LGBT rights is not easy, in part because good data does not exist in most countries quantifying the number of LGBT people, let alone their experiences. There is no census that collects sexual orientation or gender identity data — and in India, there are many local concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation that don’t neatly correlate with the idea of LGBT.
University of Massachusetts economist Lee Badgett developed two estimates based on different assumptions about how many LGBT people there are in India — one assuming 0.6 percent of the population, the other, 3.8 percent — and found the 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 said during a panel discussion moderated by BuzzFeed.
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.
LGBT people, on the other hand, have been invisible from the economic conversation until quite recently, and many of the countries in which institutions like the World Bank invest criminalize homosexuality. A decision of the Indian Supreme Court recently recriminalized homosexuality there, for example, and 64 percent of Indians said homosexuality is never justified in a world values survey.
World 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.”