Why Inclusion Of LGBTQIA+ Community In India’s Economy Is Important?

Inclusion Of Queer Community In Indian Economy
The world is progressing towards being accepting of the queer community; the conversations around the inclusion of the marginalised communities in different aspects of life more efficiently, surface frequently. We often inspect these conversations and related issues from a social or political lens, while there is a dire need to involve another lens in these conversations, the economic lens.

We talk about the economic presence of women, people from low-income backgrounds, and other minority communities but there is another section of the population out there, that deserves more attention and definitely a recognized place in the economic world; the queer community. Surveys from countries in the US and Europe suggest that about 1 to 5% of the total population identifies as a part of LGBT which also coincides with the numbers estimated for the Indian population. Well, now this is too big of a number to be ignored, right?

Inclusion Of Queer Community In Indian Economy

The Indian subcontinent is the epitome of diversity, thus catering for a rather large and diverse population as well. But deep-rooted in this diversity is the burden of social norms and orthodox thoughts that still prevents us from taking much more progressive steps. And the burden of this is bound to leave us with economic consequences.

The queer community makes up a significant population in India and their contribution to India’s economy can be large scale only if their inclusion in the economy is openly welcomed. India still has a long way to go while raising the issues of people marginalised on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Lack of apt laws for the community’s protection and the discrimination queer persons face in the heteronormative society, their inclusion becomes much more difficult.

Does that mean that queer persons are absent from the workforce? Does the workforce accept queer persons?

It may not be well documented, but largely discussed how queer persons are often subjected to different forms of discrimination. Homosexuality is treated as something that cannot be justified and long-held prejudices against it lead to the violation of human rights of people of the community. How is it related to the economic development of the country?

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Discriminatory behaviour and practices toward the queer community in educational institutions or overall accessibility of education can result in inefficient outputs for the economy. A 2005 Naz Foundation study found that half of the gay respondents had experienced harassment and violence by teachers and classmates and that treatment reduced their ability to continue with their education. Another study of a small group of transgender students in secondary schools found evidence of harassment and discrimination by students and teachers.

Education is the prime source for a person to turn themselves into human capital, therefore exclusion from education and training processes would reduce their opportunity to develop human capital and diminish future output. Lack of support for queer people and negative treatment leads to the development of self-doubt and low confidence among the concerned population due to which they might not want to be willing participants in the workforce or voluntarily drop the idea of literacy.

India is still struggling to provide education to people from low-income backgrounds, such practices will hinder the growth prospects of the country. Education also needs transformative ideas and diverse opinions which would not be possible if we exclude a major part of the population from its access.

One of the major sectors, where the effects of exclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community are vividly visible—is our employment sector. The major contributors to the economy are the people creating outputs that add up to our GDP, therefore equitable inclusion is the need of the hour.

Most of the firms in the economic world have failed to make work-environment friendly for the queer population and cases of harassment along with discriminatory behaviour just because of gender identity or sexual orientation are endless in numbers. Sometimes employers also tend to discriminate on the basis of wages like giving lower wages to queer persons than what they deserve. Lower wages mean poverty, therefore higher poverty rates among the sexual and gender minority communities.

There is a strict economic consequence of this exclusion. When we don’t provide the community with equitable job opportunities, we are denying growing numbers in the workforce. We are denying the expansion of the labour market, higher productivity and a flourishing inclusive economy. Exclusion also means that people from LGBTQIA+ have to enter the unorganised sector. Lack of efficient job opportunities also pushes them towards taking up jobs that they don’t want to participate in.

The inclusion of the queer community in the Indian economy can reap big gains for the country. Not only it will generate additional output for the country but also it is a good opportunity for the country to make its mark in the pink economy.

Equality is necessary for the sustenance of growth and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ would take us one step closer to this global mission of acknowledging gender identities and different sexual orientations. And if we talk about the significance of the community’s economic presence, research shows that discriminating against the community could cost India around $26 billion a year. Well, now that is actually a lot of money.

We are living in the 21st century and as we wish to progress towards a better future, it becomes crucial that this progress is mindful of the diversity that we live in. every human in this world deserves a chance of representation and a life of dignity. The country’s economy is built on work done by each individual of the country and exclusion of an entire community is going to be harmful.

The question is how long will we let this happen? How long something which is as natural as breathing is going to be treated as taboo? How long we will let this orthotic thinking govern us? And how long a marginalised community is going to suffer the repercussions of nothing but unjustified behaviour?

It’s high time, we stop treating every matter in black and white, sometimes adding colour (of inclusion) to the world is necessary.

The views expressed are the author’s own