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Section 377: Equality for good, equality for opportunities, equality for growth

According to a study by the World Bank, discrimination against LGBTQ people in India could be costing our economy 32 billion dollars a year!

Tanushka Bhatnagar | Pune |

“I am what I am, so take me as I am”
“No one can escape from their individuality”
“Denial of self-expression is like death”

If you want to know the impact of a decision, the ideal approach would be to find the volume and map down the figures or numbers that fortify the results. On a quick google search, I find that “There are no official demographics for the LGBT population in India, but the Government of India submitted figures to the Supreme Court in 2012, according to which, there were about 2.5 million gay people recorded in India”. Media reports suggest that “Indian gay community including men and women would be 20 million strong”. The variance in reportage, is the pulse of the matter. There are so many people who have lived a life in shell which has impacted them socially, emotionally.

This in fact has had an impact on the larger society.

Even though majority of countries now allow sexual activity between consenting adults of the same gender, and the legal recognition of same-sex marriage is slowly spreading along with laws set in order to protect the LGBTQ community. Discrimination and stigmatisation however remain rampant around the world. Most people don’t really seem to give any matter/issue enough importance unless you put a price on it. For example, if we just said, “Pollution is bad. It harms the environment”, breathable air would have probably been sold in air-tight bottles today. But due to the enforcement of “Green Taxes” , we have one less expense to worry about. So maybe by putting a price on LGBTQ discrimination, we could achieve what our so-called morals failed to.

According to the figures submitted by Government of India to the Supreme Court in 2012, there are about 2.5 million homosexuals recorded in India , based on those individuals who have self declared to the Ministry of Health. But the matter of concern is there are much higher statistics for individuals who have concealed their identity due to fear of discrimination and marginalisation .

According to a study by the World Bank, discrimination against LGBTQ people in India could be costing our economy 32 billion dollars a year! MV Lee Badgett, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration at the University of Massachusetts, estimated the impact of LGBTQ discrimination on India’s GDP as up to 1.4% of economic output These statistics don’t just reveal untold personal tragedies, but also reflect a senseless waste of human potential on a large-scale.

No one’s expecting an overnight change in the public’s mindset and the way of law, but we could certainly start small and make our way up. The right thing to do is the smart thing to do. Selflessness and self-interest – in this case – both point in the same direction. Tackling discrimination is the right thing to do (selfless). But it’s also the smart thing to do, if a country wants to efficiently utilise the potential of its people (self-interest) and therefore increase the country’s standard of living. Inclusion and equity is the need of the hour today more than ever if India stands a chance whilst competing with large nations such as China, wherein businesses have started embracing the LGBTQ community in order to capitalise on this change. Love is a human right and it speaks for itself that in times as modish as these, same sex relations are still considered a crime in India.

(The writer is a student, pursuing her Bachelors degree in Economics from Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune. The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author)