Since 2018, the pink economy has been waiting on its wings to fly in India. If the top court in the country shows its green signal to same-sex marriages, the pink rupee will find more takers in one of the biggest LGBT+ markets in the world, which turned the most populous nation on the planet this month.
Parades, demonstrations, personal reflections, gay TV shows, LGBTQ movies, nightclubs, stores, restaurants, and even taxicabs have already done their spadework to tape India’s more than 135 million LGBTQ+ people’s tremendous purchasing power and to tide over the widespread discrimination by traditional businesses.
Their vast demographic dividend in India will shape up the world’s most lucrative pink economy in Asia soon.
Currently, the pink economy in India, which is the third largest economy in Asia, stands to lose more than $26 billion per year as same-sex marriages have not yet become an accepted norm. But a nascent gay culture has taken shape in the country since India’s Supreme Court decriminalized same-sex relations when it scrapped the colonial-era law in September 2018. Aided by the media and publicity campaigns, India’s attitude towards LGBTQ people has grown more tolerant though the country remains deeply traditional and patriarchal and poverty-stricken at the same time.
The top court is currently hearing a group of petitions seeking legal status for same-sex marriages. Nearly 18 couples have moved the top court to allow same-sex marriages. Some of them are raising children together.
India’s corporate sector is banking on the significant legal change from the court to churn out more products from their stable with a new visibility and added comfort factor. In the absence of a law and the legal status to same-sex unions, the corporate sector in India is not in a position to comfortably capitalize on its overall marketing strategy.
Since same-sex people spend their earned money solely on their needs and living, a different consumption habit is expected from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer communities. They have more purchasing power and can lavishly spend on luxury products and premium services compared with people with families and children.
Because of their DINK (‘Double Income No Kids’) status, same-sex couples are in a better position to spend more on leisure items, many market studies, where the pink economy has already taken roots, have proved.
Since LGBTQ+ couples have fewer children than other groups and higher-than-average salaries, meaning plenty of disposable cash at their disposal.
India is home to more than 135 million LGBTQ+ people with their nominal income pegged at $113 billion annually. For that matter total population of the US is 332.18 million inhabitants.
A favorable court decision will make the south Asian nation the 35th country in the world to legalize same-sex union.
The day is not far off for the pink economy to thrive in India, which overtook China as the world’s most populous nation with 1.428 billion people this month. Leading political parties and the corporate sector have openly supported inclusive workplace policies and some major business houses, even family-owned, have already put into practice inclusive polices.
India is now home to nearly a fifth of humanity -- larger than the entire population of Europe, Africa and the Americas. The figure will touch 1.668 billion by 2050 when China’s population dwarfs to 1.317 billion.
Its burgeoning population will force the country to produce 90 million new jobs by 2030 and here the pink economy will chip in with its new products and services in one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world. To make the pink economy’s foray into the vital Asian nation easier, half of India's population will be under the age of 30.
Same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ activists are banking on India’s top court for a judgment in their favor, while the federal government and religious leaders strongly oppose same-sex union in India.
The top court, led by a five-judge constitutional bench, is currently hearing both sides. The hearings are "livestreamed in the public interest.”
For the supporters, marriage is a union of two people -- not just a man and a woman. They insist on changes to laws.
India’s federal government, headed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, is in no mood to allow same-sex marriages in the country. It has even questioned the court's right to hear the matter.
"Living together as partners and sexual relationships by same-sex individuals ... are not comparable with the Indian family unit concept of a husband, a wife and children," the law ministry argued in a filing in the court.
On April 18, the government dubbed same-sex marriage as an "urban elitist concept far removed from the social ethos of the country".
Since polls are expected to take place in the largest democratic nation in the world next year, the pro-Hindu party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the federal government does not want to disrupt the status quo.
India’s major religions have opposed legal recognition of same-sex marriages. According to them, it is unnatural and anti-religious.
A Christian group called Communion of Churches wrote to President Draupadi Murmu, opposing the move to legalize same-sex marriages.
Jamiat Ulama-i Hind, a Muslim outfit, has opposed the petitions, saying they are an attack on the family system. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh leaders also have expressed concern over the demand.
If India legalizes same-sex marriage, it will become the second nation in Asia after Taiwan to do so. Japan, Thailand and the Catholic majority Philippines are also mulling legalizing same-sex marriages.
Since the pink economy is riding high on the theme of social inclusion, the court in India is expected to side with it.
It will happen in the most populous nation this year or may be after the polls next year.