Jamaica paying high price for discrimination against gays - CAPRI
File photo of head of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, Dr Damien King making a presentation.
Head of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), Dr Damien King says Jamaica has been paying dearly for its discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transexual (LGBT) community.
According to King, the marginalisation of LGBT persons in the island has caused them to fear coming forward to seek help with HIV/AIDS treatment - and that scenario presents a serious financial threat to national life.
“Each untreated case of HIV costs half a million dollars. It is estimated that a HIV positive person is likely to pass it on to two or three persons in the absence of treatment. Carrying that all the way downstream means that an additional person will become infected because one person is not properly treated,” King said.
“We end up with a cost of $35 billion for each cohort that is not treated,” he added at a CAPRI forum on the cost of sexuality-based discrimination in Jamaica at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday.
There is further strain on the health sector considering that the incidence of mental health illness in the local LGBT community (69 per cent) is three times that of the general population, King said.
"Treating mental health costs Jamaica about $5 billion each year – only a third of which is public cost. The rest is a private cost," King said.
He also noted that the country was missing out on tourism dollars because of hostility towards homosexuals.
CAPRI is also adamant that the archaic buggery law should be wiped from the law books.
The institute also called on the media and employers to play their part in making acceptance of openly gay persons the norm rather than the exception.
In the meantime, the executive director of the Equality For All Foundation Jamaica, Jaevion Nelson has admitted that despite the staunch anti-gay sentiment that still lingers, Jamaica has improved immensely in terms of attitude towards persons who choose to engage in same sex relationships.
“Every country must improve and Jamaica has improved. We still have a far way to go however,” Nelson told Loop News in an interview after the forum.
The most recent National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same-Sex Relationships in 2012 indicated that Jamaicans have grown more tolerant of gays, but the majority are still opposed to the homosexual lifestyle.