LGBT acceptance in PHL cited, seen to up local economy – US economist PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 11:50

By DOMINIC I. SANCHEZ

Homosexuality is generally accepted in the Philippines, in comparison to many other countries that see it as unacceptable, said an American economist in a forum here last week. This acceptability is seen as a factor to create a friendlier and more promising economy in the country.

Speaking before lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) groups, the academe, government representatives, religious sector representatives and other local stakeholders in Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) last Aug. 19, Mary Virginia Lee Badgett said many countries still perceive homosexuality as a moral issue.

There are about 80 countries where homosexuality is a crime,” she shared. “You can be imprisoned [for being a homosexual].”

But the case is very different in the Philippines. “The LGBT community is doing pretty well here,” she said.

In her study, Badgett explained that 73 percent of Filipinos are generally accepting of homosexuality, and this places the Philippines second to Australia in the Asia-Pacific region to have a highly favorable environment for the LGBTs.

However, she revealed that in spite of Filipinos having accepted homosexuality, 65 percent still say that it is morally unacceptable. “This may come from religious values,” she added, referencing that the debate between the Church and religious groups with the LGBT community remains “bitter” because of many “different views and opinions.”

Badgett narrated several instances of LGBT discrimination and exclusion in other countries such as India, which, according to her study resulted to poverty, poor education and health, among others.

However, societies should look at the other side of the coin, Badgett pointed out. She explained that having LGBTs participate in governance and providing for them a more favorable social environment is a factor in economic development.

“In some countries where there is an unfavorable environment for LGBTs, there is low productivity from the LGBTs,” she said. “There are high rates of depression and suicide.”

LGBT-supportive policies and workplace climates generate economic benefits not only for the employers, but for the country as a whole. “They are more committed in performing their tasks, they are more satisfied.”

“Advocating for human rights is good for the economy, they can open up spaces for investments and support from development agencies,” she added.

Badgett commended the Philippines for being providing a favorable environment for LGBTs. “You have leaders that make a stand, we just have to continue to have conversations [for gay rights advocacy],” she said.

Badgett is an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who is known for her research in the lives of gay men, lesbians and their families in the economic perspective. She has been in several countries to gather data for her recent research on LGBT exclusion and its implication to economies. She is the author of When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage and Money, Myths and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men. (FPG/DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City)