By Hugo Greenhalgh
LONDON, April 27 (Openly) - Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people costs Eastern European countries almost 2% a year in economic growth, a coalition of dozens of global companies promoting LGBT+ inclusion said on Tuesday.
Hungary, Poland, Romania and Ukraine are losing billions of dollars each year due to the lack of equal workplace rights for LGBT+ people and factors such as higher health costs related to HIV/AIDS and depression, said Open For Business (OFB).
They are also facing a "brain drain" of skilled workers and struggling to win foreign investment, found OFB, which is backed by tech giants Google and Microsoft, Barclays and Deutsche Bank, spirits group Diageo and accounting firms PWC, EY and KPMG.
"Countries that are more open (in terms of LGBT+ rights) are generally speaking financially and economically in a much better place," the report's lead author George Perlov told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Gay sex is legal in all four countries, but none allow same-sex marriage and LGBT+ people have faced physical attacks, which make it hard to live openly.
In Poland, about 100 municipalities have signed declarations saying they are free of "LGBT ideology", leading the European Union (EU) last year to withhold funding.
European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, who was behind the EU decision, said tackling discrimination against LGBT+ people would be beneficial economically, not just in terms of equality and fairness.
"It will also give companies that embrace it a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent," she said in a statement.
The report, which was part-funded by Google, also found a majority of local companies in the four countries backed LGBT+ equality and diversity in the workplace.
Antonio Zappulla, the chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, publisher of Openly, is a trustee of Open For Business
(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh. Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.
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