Anti-LGBT discrimination costs Kenya ‘up to $1.3 billion’ a year

LGBT people attend an inter-faith service in Nairobi, Kenya, on February 17, 2019.

A culture of anti-LGBT discrimination could be costing Kenya up to $1.3 billion a year, a new report claims.

The report from the pro-LGBT Open for Business coalition sets out the economic case for LGBT+ inclusion in Kenya, after the country’s Supreme Court delayed a much-anticipated ruling on a challenge to anti-gay laws.

It is illegal to be gay in Kenya under a British colonial-era law, and there are no protections against discrimination or hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

1.7% of Kenya’s GDP ‘lost to anti-LGBT discrimination’

According to the report, the hostile environment towards LGBT+ people could be costing the country as much as 1.7% of its GDP per year.

Kenya’s tourism industry, which drives much of the country’s services sector, is missing out on an estimated $64 million to $140 million in revenues due to the country’s national reputation on the issue, with LGBT+ travellers and allies preferring other destinations.

Anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and human capital is also another major source of lost revenue in the country, resulting in “unemployment, underemployment, wage gaps and lower productivity.”

The report exposes the cost of anti-LGBT discrimination in Kenya

The report exposes the cost of anti-LGBT discrimination in Kenya

A further $40 to $105 million is estimated to be lost due to the impact on human capital, compared with countries with more inclusives stances .

By far the biggest impact of anti-LGBT discrimination on Kenya’s economy comes in healthcare costs, particularly from the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

The report warns: “HIV services are often out of reach for transgender women and gay and bisexual men due to anti-LGBT+ violence, thus they are nearly always disproportionately represented among those not receiving anti-retroviral treatment, nor are they and their partners benefiting from treatment as prevention.”

“A study of the cost of HIV/AIDS to Kenya found that investments, exports, consumption, and, ultimately, GDP growth are all lower than expected due to the epidemic.”

The cost of anti-LGBT discrimination in healthcare is estimated as between $80 million and $1 billion.

Kenya’s Supreme Court set to rule on anti-LGBT laws

The research was conducted by David Kuria Mbote from DK Consulting and Roseline Njogu and Dr Eric Kibet from Lexlink.

The Open for Business coalition, which authored the report, is comprised of multinational companies that advocate for LGBT+ inclusion globally, including Virgin, Microsoft, Google, IBM and KPMG.

Kenya’s Supreme Court is now set to rule on May 24 on the future of laws the criminalise sodomy, and make sexual acts “against the order of nature,” interpreted as including same-sex sexual relations, punishable by 14 years’ imprisonment.

Delaying their verdict on February 22, judges said they had not yet “finalised” their decision over the lawsuit, citing “administrative challenges and full dockets” as the reason for the delay.