Three recent studies from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law show that countries with a free press, functioning democracies and respect for the rule of law are fertile places for developing policies and social attitudes that accept LGBT people. These studies shed light on the effects of the so-called LGBT economy and clues on how to expand queer rights worldwide.
The studies themselves show three important things: First, that anti-LGBTQ attitudes increase acts of violence and discrimination against LGBT people; second, that public acceptance of LGBT people leads to greater LGBT rights; and third, that anti-LGBT discrimination actually hurts a country’s economic performance.
The studies’ authors, Andrew R. Flores and Andrew Park, created a measure called the LGBT Global Acceptance Index (GAI) which gauged LGBT acceptance in 141 countries based on their citizens’ responses to surveys about LGBT issues.
The researchers found that countries more accepting of LGBT people create greater legal rights for queer citizens, passing laws decriminalizing homosexuality, allowing LGBTQ military service or preventing anti-LGBTQ discrimination, for instance. Functioning democracies, a free press, a strong economy and respect for rule of law are al helpful pre-conditions for foster pro-LGBTQ attitudes, researchers found.
Think of the pro-LGBTQ progress in Taiwan (which has all of the above) compared to, say, Chechnya where the government conducts extra-judicial arrests and controls all local media.
The studies’ authors also found that poor treatment of LGBT people is bad for the economy, often resulting in lower workforce productivity and decreased business productivity. Conversely, they found that in 120 countries with public and legal environments more accepting of LGBT people, the economies were also stronger.
In fact, “Adding one more legal right for LGBT people is associated with almost $1,700 more in GDP per capita,” they wrote. “LGBT people need both (social acceptance and legal rights) in order to be fully included in the economy and society.”
While they admit that adding LGBT rights won’t automatically boost a country’s economy, they said LGBT advocates should promote democracy and press freedom as part of their global agenda and also include LGBT issues in discussions about global economic policies.
Their studies echo the findings of previous studies. A January 2016 study of corporate employees in 10 world countries found that anti-LGBT laws harm the economy. Another study from August 2016 found that anti-LGBTQ policies harmed world economies to the tune of $119.1 billion worldwide.