Sun | May 28, 2017

Letter of the day: Economic cost of homophobia

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2015 | 8:00 AM

There was a very good article on the economic cost of homophobia in The Sunday Gleaner by Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins, an angle often ignored in the discussions about LGBT rights. Although many LGBT people live very normal and productive lives as professionals, contributing significantly to the development of Jamaica and its economy, unfortunately, there are many marginalised LGBT individuals who are unproductive and unemployable, and find it extremely difficult to improve their living conditions, because of stigma, bullying, attacks and other forms of discrimination, sometimes seen even in the media!

We don't even have to look far. Those homeless gay youths in New Kingston, for instance, wreaked havoc in the area with robberies and other crimes, prostitution, and squatting anywhere with their antisocial behaviour, as they struggle to survive.

 

HEALTH CARE COSTS

These are just some of the social costs. There are also health care costs, and these LGBT persons become quite a burden economically and socially because of homophobia. We could also factor in the opportunity costs of homophobia, the vast potential income lost in tourism, considering large numbers of visitors who avoid Jamaica because of fear arising from Jamaica's well-known anti-gay reputation. Meanwhile, LGBT-friendly destinations in the region such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bahamas and Mexico benefit to our disadvantage. And these countries don't compromise values or morals either, they are simply more respectful, and therefore more welcoming.

Our tolerance limits is often tested. I've seen effeminate male make-up artists flown to the island for special events, some wearing makeup as they show off their artistry and skills in public, and no one is bothered, I have also seen famous gay celebrities visit for events and everyone wants a selfie. Our people migrate in droves to other lands, living with, working with and befriending LGBT persons - no problem! We adapt easily when we have to. I hear people complaining online about the LGBT Jamaica Pride events this year which coincide with Independence and Emancipation celebrations. These are the same people who usually prefer to spend these national holidays on the beach, at dances and rum bars and nightclubs.

I, therefore, must congratulate the organisers of LGBT Pride in Jamaica. A few years ago this would have been unheard of. Tolerance begins with taking pride in ourselves first, as we continue the conversation and dialogue and educate and inform. Tolerance also involves listening, even to those who may disagree. At some point we will realise we are all human beings, with no life worth more or less than the other, under the law. And for those with religious views, we are all God's creation. We must learn to leave other people alone and stop interfering in the consensual sex lives and sexuality of others. As the old saying goes, "nothing will bring us greater peace than minding our own business!"

Pete Delisser