Combating homophobia and transphobia are economic and business imperatives, in addition to being a human rights mandate. This is according to a report published by Open for Business and Virgin Atlantic which sets out the data that demonstrates these imperatives for 12 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The challenges that LGBTQ+ people in the Caribbean confront on a daily basis can be stark: state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia are prevalent, as is social stigma. As just two examples, nine of the 12 focus countries criminalise same-sex intimate acts, and none of them allows a change of sex or gender marker on state identification.
Tourism in the Caribbean is diminished by anti LGBTQ+ laws
- LGBTQ+ exclusion in the English-speaking Caribbean costs between US$1.5 billion and $4.2 billion per year – between 2.1 and up to 5.7 per cent of its collective GDP. In addition to being a significant human rights concern, LGBTQ+ legal and social exclusion carry specific economic tolls that all must pay, including diminished human capital, health disparities, labour output, experiences of violence.
- Tourism in the Caribbean is diminished by anti-LGBTQ+ laws and stigma, at a cost of between $423 million and up to $689 million, or 0.57-0.93 per cent of its regional GDP.
In the countries of focus, overall tourism contributes up to 14 per cent of GDP. Open For Business research revealed that 18 per cent of travellers would not visit the region, predominantly because of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and stigma – thus, state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia have clear financial costs. Inversely, data also showed a significantly stronger likelihood of tourists visiting a country after it adopts pro-LGBTQ+ policies.
Many cultural and social movements in the Caribbean are encouraging an empowered outlook for the LGBTQ+ community. In this large and diverse region, civil society, the private sector and sometimes the courts are leading progressive change. This research taps into that momentum by also capturing the benefits of LGBTQ+ inclusion, couched in economic, business and social terms.