Despite some legal and social advances in the past two decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. This discrimination and violence leads to exclusion, and this exclusion has adverse impacts on both the lives of LGBTI people as well as on the communities and economies in which they live.
Increasing evidence indicates that LGBTI people suffer lower education outcomes due to discrimination, bullying and violence; higher unemployment rates; and a lack of access to adequate housing and health services and financial services. As a result, LGBTI people are likely overrepresented in the bottom 40% of the population. For the first time, the World Bank attempted to quantify the productivity, investment and other economic costs of LGBT exclusion in a 2014 report titled The economic cost of stigma and the exclusion of LGBT people: a case study of India.
In many countries, it is especially difficult to tackle LGBTI exclusion, discrimination, and violence. First and foremost, there is a deeply entrenched stigma against LGBTI people. Lack of an enabling legal framework, which often is a result of such stigma, is another important reason. To date, over 70 countries continue to criminalize homosexuality.
A major barrier to addressing this stigma and SOGI-based exclusion is the lack of data on the lives of LGBTI people. Robust, quantitative data on differential development experiences and outcomes of LGBTI people—especially those in developing countries—is extremely thin. This data gap poses a challenge to the World Bank and other development institutions. Most importantly, this data gap puts in jeopardy the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and countries’ commitment to the principle of “leaving no one behind” in the effort to end poverty and inequality.