Pink Economy and it’s Uncaptured Potential

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The striking date—6th September 2018, marked the legalization of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community with the scrapping of the age-old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code imposed by the Britishers during the pre-independence era.

Substantive as it was, it certainly wasn’t a cakewalk. The community as a whole struggled indubitably for hundreds of years. The prolonged injustice and mass seclusion by fellow humans led to the rise of the pride moment, a proposition for the furtherance of LGBTQ+ rights, to break the stereotype prevailing against them. However, it’s worth noting it still persists!

The Indian texts and holy books have significant mention of homosexuality. Various Hindu temples portray homosexual activity in their architecture and sculptures. Also, there are multiple homosexual characters in the Mahabharat. One such acclaimed character is Shikhandi, female by birth, who upon identification as male, marries a woman.

Instilling these facts, it is clear that on paper we check out the so-called boxes of national justice, legalisation, religious approval but the reality is still a far cry.

Economical and Financial drain 

These people are dynamic and powerful enough to run a whole new concept of pink economy, a term used to describe the rising power of any country’s LGBTQ+ Community and the critical incorporation of sexual diversity into capitalism and the market economy. Exclusion of the community from the economic system is catastrophic as it leads to wasted human capital.

Although there are no official demographics regarding the number of homosexual people, there is a rough estimate of 2.5 million gay people in India. This is a significant amount of human capital which if ignored, may lead to a loss of around $364 billion of the national output owing to heightened discrimination against the cause. This amount is certainly huge for every country, rich or poor, and India is still a developing country. 

The economic aspect of the Pink Economy is very crucial and needs proper heed. So, let’s delve deeper into how a more inclusive environment will be conducive to the country’s and the community’s economic growth.

For instance, India is commonly perceived to be a very conservative society, which makes individuals from the community hesitant and unwilling to travel here. Transforming our policies and restructuring our tourism sector in a positive manner will subsequently boost tourism of all individuals  in our country. It’s the mere understanding of the hospitality claim that India cherishes. The inclusion of safe travels, booming recreation, and general acceptance shall instil confidence in the community. Countries shall take notes from the city of Tel Aviv in Israel, internationally recognised as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world.

The status is so since they have multiple factors into account—hospitality (unbiased hotels & other recreation places), safety (unbiased army) and most importantly openness and legality of the same. 

Borderline the community has the force to drive the economy and is immensely important, in particular, to the hospitality and tourism sectors. With the growing popularity of the concept of DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids) among the new age couples, already struggling to maintain a work-life balance, even the LGBTQ+ community could not remain averse to it. As per a 2017 publication of the Slate magazine, parenting is still not on the agenda for many queer couples. With no responsibility for a child, it cuts down their expenses with respect to raising them, in terms of both money and time. The disposable income can further be used for recreation. India with its magnificent architecture, rich culture and intrinsically beautiful nature, can be a one-stop travel destination for the LGBTQ+ community, and in this way can also boost the businesses of the hoteliers, restaurant and travel agency owners, who are now coming up with gay-friendly travel packages, long due acceptance. 

As per credible statistics, LGBTQ+ tourism contributes $65 billion per year in the US alone (Taking 5% of the whole US tourism Industry revenues which as per the US Department of Commerce is approximately $1.3 trillion). If we apply the same percentage to India’s tourism and hospitality sector which contributes $201.68 billion (Rs15.24 lakh crores) to the GDP (based on 2017 figures), LGBTQ+ tourism would generate an additional $10.186 billion (Rs 76.2 thousand crores). This figure is indisputably too significant to be ignored. Moreover, many regions in India like the North-East and Ladakh’s economy solely depend on tourism and by giving importance to help the pink economy grow, we can expect more number of tourists which can eventually help the local people of these towns economically. 

It’s imperative to shine a light on the power of more infusion of capital. For the longest time, the LGBTQ+ community has faced difficulties in opening accounts as there was no provision for them for the same. Thus, the inclusion of the “third gender option” in forms rolled out by the RBI may stimulate the community’s sense of oneness. This will give them access to all facilities offered by the Banks, Public Financial Institutions and NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Companies), which in turn will earn them a good amount of interest and at the same time, will increase the funds available to these financial institutions for lending purposes. Thus, multiplying the queer’s income and ensuring more investments to flow into the economy. A definite acceptance situation!

Last but never the least, Employment! After decriminalization of homosexuality by the Honorable Supreme Court, the companies can employ the best talents from all sections, and support the LGBTQ+ Community without having to fear the criticism and legal action for supporting the once deemed “illegal.” 

During pride month, we see various brands who show their “solidarity” by putting friendly messages on LGBTQ+ or design their logos with pride colours however, this is nothing but pink washing as they haven’t really done any considerable work on their internal policies to support the community, and their words are often hollow in enactment. For instance, companies can help out in the insurance sector, by covering for SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery), and offering insurance coverage for partners of employees.

A 2018 TimesJobs survey highlighted the current attitude of an Indian workplace— 57% of the participants responded negatively to the openly recruited LGBTQ+ and candidates with disabilities. 

It’s strongly believed that the government has a crucial role to play here along with due insights from representatives of the community. Economic support and strengthening of the community can be made mandatory under Corporate Social Responsibility activities of various conglomerates and the Central Board of Direct Taxation can provide tax exemption on PGBP (Profits & Gains from Business and Profession) income to entities engaging residents from this community, actuating commercial and business units to implement LGBTQ+ accessible policies. Also, certain tax exemptions can also be given to people from the community on their individual income, motivating people to come out with hope and not fear. 

Thus, In due reverence to the pride month, we urge all our readers—Don’t just create advertisements to sell. Commit to be inclusive. Break the stereotypes. Become a catalyst to improve lives. Support the cause. Accept, just how The Nine-Nine embraced Captain Holt and Detective Diaz!

Note:The “pink” references the pink triangle which has become an icon of the gay rights movement, in fact, it was used as a badge in Nazi concentration camps to identify homosexuals. When the gay rights community became more active, it was decided to reclaim the symbol as an easily recognized emblem.


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