Gay sex ruling to free India’s ‘pink economy’

From LGBT nightclubs to “gaycations” and more, a court ruling legalising homosexuality in India is set to unlock one of the world’s largest “pink economies”, experts say.

The Supreme Court’s historic decision last week to scrap a colonial-era ban on gay sex sparked joy as activists held rainbow-coloured celebrations across the country.

Now the community can expect to see businesses lining up to offer a range of tailored products, in fashion, health and other industries, providing a massive boost to Asia’s third-biggest economy.

“It can bring billions of dollars to the Indian economy if they can activate the spending of gay people in India,” Keshav Suri, a hotelier and petitioner in the landmark case, told AFP.

“There is business to be done, real estate to be bought and sold, holidays and all the services that go with that.

“The value of the pink economy and the social aspects of the LGBT community are too large now for us to ignore,” added Suri, executive director of the Lalit hotel group.

India is home to more than 55 million LGBT adults, according to Out Now Consulting, a marketing agency that helps businesses target gay and lesbian consumers.

Their nominal income is around $113 billion annually, the firm estimates. LGBT couples have fewer children than other groups and higher-than-average salaries, meaning plenty of disposable cash.

“They represent one of the world’s largest LGBT markets,” Ian Johnson, the founder of the Australia-based Out Now Consulting, told AFP.

He predicts that drinks brands and travel companies will be the first to target the LGBT community following the scrapping of Section 377, which was introduced 157 years ago.

LGBT bars, clubs and cafes will provide new employment and boost sales in the food and alcohol industries while people will be able to attend holidays designed specifically for the gay market without fear of legal reprisal.

Nakshatra Bagwe, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur, runs The BackPack Travels, a company specialising in organising trips for LGBT tourists.

He says it has been profitable since it was set up in October 2016 but he expects to see an increase in revenue following the law change.

“With legality and freedom on our side businesses will invest in the community and opportunities will increase in the coming years,” he told AFP.