Takeaways from the CAPRI “Paying for Prejudice” Panel

What’s the economic cost of homophobia and discrimination? Try $11 billion dollars per year.

The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) published a report that shows that Jamaica’s oppressive anti-gay laws and discriminatory practices costs the workforce around $11 billion annually and makes the minority group three times more vulnerable to mental-health illness.

I was invited to be a panelist speaker at the “Paying for Prejudice” event, hosted by CAPRI, to share my opinion on the report and Jamaica.

One of the main things we discussed, and agreed upon, is that someone’s sexual orientation is their personal right and it is a human rights violation to use that a measure of their capacity or ability to work. By engaging in discrimination in this matter, it doesn’t just affect one individual, but the entire country (as you can see from the statistic above).

Therefore, all of us, despite our belief systems, orientation, gender, etc., need to to fight for the rights of those discriminated against, because at the end of the day, we are all HUMAN, and we all deserve the right to freedom, dignity and the ability to live FREE OF DISCRIMINATION.

Just as we speak on gender equality as not just a women’s issue, saying that men have to be a part of that discussion and fight alongside us, the same it is with discriminatory practices. Even if these actions don’t impact you individually, they affect us all as a nation, therefore it is the responsibility of all of us to call out these actions and come to the aid of those affected, because they may not be able to speak out from fear of repercussion, but you can.

We didn’t need the CAPRI report to tell us that there is a mental, physical, economic cost to discrimination, but it helped to quantify the direct and indirect impact of it on our country. I hope that now that we see the cold hard facts, we’ll work harder at changing them and making Jamaica an even better place to live and work for all our people.