Discrimination costs. That is the takeaway from recent research from the Carribean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) that asserts that archaic anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Jamaica and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people costs the island nation around $11 billion a year. This stat was revealed Tuesday night during CAPRI’s “Paying for Prejudice” event in Kingston.
Jamaica is known worldwide for it’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies and behavior, which landed them Time magazine’s "most homophobic place on Earth" label in 2006. The country still has buggery, or sodomy, laws on the books which makes same-sex activity punishable by imprisonment. There are no discrmination-related policies to protect LGBTQ+ people and it’s well-documented that living life in Jamaica as openly LGBTQ+ is dangerous. All of this limits some tourism of the pink dollar to the island, whose economy is tourism-dependent
But if that wasn’t enough to shake the nation into acceptance, CAPRI noted that hostility toward LGBTQ+ people causes a huge financial burden on Jamaica’s mental health services.
“The incidence of mental health in the LGBT community is 69 per cent. It is more than triple the rate in the general population,” Damien King, co-executive director of CAPRI, said at a report launch according to The Gleaner. “Treating mental health costs Jamaica about $5 billion each year – only a third of which is public cost. The rest is a private cost. That $5 billion gives you a sense of what would be both the public and private savings that could be put to other uses if we were able to have a better attitude towards this marginalised group."
CAPRI’s data asserts that LGBTQ+ discimrination alone adds $175 million to the annual mental health treatment costs of the nation. Additionally, because of the prevaling social stigma around queer identity on the island, education about and access to HIV-related infromation, testing, and resources is finite, raising risk and further increasing health-related expenses the government and tax payers must cover.
“Each untreated case of HIV costs half a million dollars,” King continued. “It is estimated that each HIV-positive person is likely to pass it on to two other persons in the absence of treatment. Carrying that all the way downstream means that an additional person will become infected because one person is not properly treated.”
Maybe this data will get the country to be more accepting. Maybe it won’t. Either way, they’re missing out on a lot of coins that could be used to better the lives of all Jamaicans because of their bigotry.