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"The more you try to control people’s sexual orientation, the higher the economic cost."
Michaela Morgan

20 Feb 2017 - 3:26 PM  UPDATED 20 Feb 2017 - 3:26 PM

UNAIDS researcher and health economist Erik Lamontagne says countries that discriminate against the LGBT+ community are losing out economically.  

Lamontagne tells Humanosphere that he developed the Homophobia Climate Index as a way of quantifying how discriminatory laws were affecting economic growth.  

“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,” says Lamontagne.

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He says that the exclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender and other people who represent gender or sexual diversities was undermining their potential earning power, conservatively estimated to be about $100 billion annually.

Countries such as Togo, Papua New Guinea, Iraq and Morocco lose a large share of economic output due to anti-LGBT legislation whereas Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway were highly ranked by the Homophobia Climate Index for being the most inclusive.

“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,” says Lamontagne.

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He hopes his research will inform lawmakers globally to include the LGBT+ community into society as well as the workplace.

“As a general trend, things were improving for the last decade. But we must acknowledge that hardly won gains – in terms of inclusion and tolerance – can be reversed by misled political decisions,” he said.

"We trust decision makers will be keen in continuing the progresses achieved so far.”