The recent overturning of Section 377 of India’s Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality in India, will have unprecedented effects on the country’s economic sector. While there will be pronounced social change on a domestic and regional level, there will also be notable changes on an international level for India regarding multinational company growth, tourism industry development and direct investment.
The criminalization of homosexuality in India had a significant number of repercussions for the country, particularly in regards to its social and economic sectors. India had been losing up to 1.4% of its national output, equivalent to about $26 billion a year, because of its discriminating laws against the LGBTQ community. As the laws were a part of the Indian Penal Code, many international companies were hesitant to enter the Indian market out of fear of criticism, especially if their companies appealed to LGBTQ consumers. These laws also affected the domestic market and prevented growth, as certain industries that appealed primarily to LGBTQ consumers could not be explored further.
The decriminalization of homosexuality will also lead to more multinational and national business opportunities, especially with companies such as IBM India, Tata Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland openly supporting all- inclusive policies in India, even when same- sex intercourse was criminalized. India is creating a more inviting atmosphere for international companies to enter the market, who will no longer have to fear the maltreatment of their own employees whom may be gay or transgender. Companies also do not have to fear criticism for supporting previously illegal conduct.
The newly developed “pink economy,” as it has been coined, is one of the newest and most important developments that have resulted from the overturning of Section 377. There is now a massive untapped market that is readily available for both producers and consumers, and will lead to the development of an entire range of new companies and products for sale. The newer, inclusive atmosphere for producers and consumers will also trigger change on an international level. As stated by Channel News Asia, “Now the community can expect to see businesses lining up to offer a range of tailored products, in fashion, health and other industries, providing a massive boost to Asia's third-biggest economy.”
The ruling has not only affected the international aspect of the Indian economy, but will change the workforce environment within the country as well. As explained in Bloomberg, “…inclusive policies were linked to greater GDP per capita, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, urban development, talent retention and a better national reputation that could bring in additional direct investment.” With the criminalization of homosexuality, many people felt uncomfortable to express themselves in their place of work for fear of discrimination. While genuine prosecution was unusual, blackmail and violence against LGBTQ- identifying Indians was often a result of Section 377. By allowing employees to feel comfortable in their positions without apprehension, specifically regarding prejudice by their peers, there will be a natural increase in both productivity and positivity.
This past July, Hong Kong passed its own inclusive law, allowing for spouses of gay emigrant workers to obtain visas. This step put pressure on other Asian regions as well, as Hong Kong’s decision made their economy more open and welcoming. As explained in Bloomberg, “It’s not just GDP numbers that make you part of the global economy -- it’s also these values.” Another economic development stemming from the decriminalization of homosexuality is an increase in tourism in India, which will trigger growth in the tourism industry. People can now travel with their partners with more ease, and do not need to fear intolerance.
The decriminalization of homosexuality in India will lead to significant economic change within the country, especially regarding the growth of the “pink economy,” the growth of international business within India, and the lessening of discrimination towards employees. While same- sex marriage is still illegal in India, the decriminalization of same- sex intercourse is a monumental step in the movement towards total inclusivity.