How Chile’s same-sex marriage law could boost the economy

Chile recently legalized same-sex marriage. But what are the economic benefits of same-sex marriages?

By Hugo Greenhalgh and Jennifer Ann Thomas

LONDON / SAO PAULO, December 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At his LGBT boutique hotel in the Chilean capital, Will Martin hopes the country’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage this month will attract newlywed couples keen to do celebration.

“Visibility is something people take very seriously,” Martin said by phone from The Aubrey in Santiago. “They want to be seen, proud and open about what they’re doing.”

But as more countries legalize same-sex marriages, researchers and LGBT + activists say the economic benefits of marriage equality extend far beyond wedding celebrations and honeymoons, and may give nations a significant competitive advantage.

“Marriage equality is still quite rare in the world,” said MV Lee Badgett, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“It’s always something that sends a very powerful signal – and to businesses and tourists that can make a big difference,” said Badgett, who studies the economic impact of LGBT + inclusion on countries from the middle. from the 90s.

Chile has become the 30th country legalize same-sex marriage on December 7, joining Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Latin America.

“The business case is a very powerful tool in defending the LGBT + rights movement,” Jon Miller, founder of Open For Business, a group of companies promoting LGBT + inclusion, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“When we show people that there are real economic benefits to becoming more LGBT + inclusive, it changes the conversation.”


Denmark was the first country to legalize same-sex unions, passing legislation recognizing “registered partnerships” in 1989, and several European countries followed up quickly.

The Czech Republic has allowed same-sex couples to register their partnerships since 2006, although it falls far short of granting full marriage rights.

A 2020 report of Open For Business suggested that the central European nation was missing between $ 25 million and $ 113 million a year on income from same-sex marriages alone.

In May 2019, Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage soon after the publication of Open For Business. a similar report looking at the island, backed by multinational companies including tech giants Google and Microsoft.

“Marriage for same-sex couples would help Taiwan develop its economic competitiveness and facilitate an environment conducive to business prosperity,” the report’s authors noted.

The global LGBT + market is huge, with research from Swiss world bank Credit Suisse suggesting it would rank fourth among global economies, behind Japan but ahead of Germany in purchasing power.

A 2018 study conducted by Kantar Consulting and the LGBT + social network Hornet estimated the purchasing power of the community in the United States alone at $ 1,000 billion in 2016, almost equal to that of African-American or Hispanic consumers.

Companies have been trying to tap into what has become known as the pink pound – or dollar, peseta, or renminbi – since furniture retailer IKEA launched the first announcement featuring a gay couple in 1994.

“Compelling business case”

But while the broader economic benefits are clear, the on-the-ground business impact of same-sex marriage laws is more nuanced, said Carlos Kytka, executive director of the Gay European Tourism Association.

Allowing same-sex couples to marry gives countries a form of “soft power,” meaning they are seen as more liberal and therefore more attractive to LGBT + tourists, he said.

But Kytka said same-sex couples were less likely to spend a lot on honeymoons, in part because many got married later in life when the laws were passed – years after taking informal honeymoons. when they first meet.

“I always explain to (hotels) that are gay friendly but are not gay businesses that they shouldn’t expect this kind of huge honeymoon market that there is in the heterosexual world. “said Kytka.

For large, global companies, such as airline Virgin Atlantic, the economic cost to countries lacking in LGBT + tourism is obvious.

A June report, co-sponsored with Open For Business which looked at the Caribbean, revealed that anti-gay laws were costing the region’s 12 English-speaking nations up to $ 4.4 billion a year in lost tourism and ’emigration.

“In the Caribbean and elsewhere, the continued criminalization and social discrimination of LGBT + people comes at a significant cost – to affected individuals, local economies, communities and, ultimately, of course, everyone,” Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, said in comments sent via email.

“The business case for LGBT + inclusion – to end suffering – is also strong and compelling. “

In Chile, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 and shaken in recent years by protests against inequality, it may take time to see the business benefits of the new law, said Alessia Injoque, director of the LGBT + organization Fundacion Iguales.

“We are still in a period of a pandemic, so it is difficult to predict how the economics of marriage will be impacted,” she said.

“But I believe so, over time we will see a positive impact.”

(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh and Jennifer Ann Thomas @jennyann_thomas with additional reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota; edited by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who are struggling to live freely or fairly. Visit

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