October 12, 2023


Ecommerce Internationalisation and LGBTQ+ Issues: Navigating Challenges and Promoting Inclusivity Worldwide


Joshua Hobson

Why is internationalisation a focus for ecommerce brands?

Internationalisation has always been a focus for ecommerce brands, but especially in recent years where the UK’s economic climate is unpredictable and weaker than those in other countries. As ecommerce platforms have made it easier to sell internationally, many brands look to enter new markets across the world to increase profitability and reach new customers. 

However, while ecommerce brands are expanding globally, it's crucial to be aware of the LGBTQ+ landscape and the status of human rights in different countries.

What does the LGBTQ+ landscape look like across the world?

The LGBTQ+ community sees various levels of prejudice, rights and danger across continents. 

  • Additionally, the rise of anti-trans sentiment in various European countries underscores the challenges faced by the transgender community.
  • In the context of booming ecommerce markets in Asia, countries like the Philippines, India, and Indonesia are showing rapid growth. However, these markets exhibit varying levels of safety and anti-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Meanwhile, the US, a significant market for European brands, is grappling with anti-gender and anti-drag laws at the state level, indicating a concerning trend.

What can brands do to promote inclusivity?

As businesses expand globally, it's crucial to uphold LGBTQ+ rights and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, navigating markets where LGBTQ+ rights might be limited requires a delicate balance. What can brands do to help support the LGBTQ+ community whilst also selling internationally?

1) Financial support for LGBTQ+ charities

Ecommerce brands can make a significant impact by financially supporting LGBTQ+ charities in countries with discriminatory legislation. These contributions can fund awareness campaigns, legal aid, and support services for the LGBTQ+ community.

2) Promote support and inclusivity

Brands should openly advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, both within and outside their target countries. Promoting inclusivity through social media, advertising campaigns, and partnerships with LGBTQ+ influencers can foster a supportive environment.

3) Donate a percentage of sales

Ecommerce businesses can pledge to donate a percentage of every international sale in countries with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. These donations can be directed towards LGBTQ+ organisations working to create change and protect the rights of individuals in these regions.

4) Volunteering and cultural exchange

Brands can encourage their employees to volunteer in international LGBTQ+ communities, even if they exist outside their target markets. Cultural exchange initiatives can promote understanding and tolerance, breaking down barriers and fostering acceptance.

5) Strategic market selection

While expansion is essential, brands should carefully choose their markets. By focusing on regions with more inclusive policies, companies can align their growth strategies with their values, ensuring a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community.

Final thoughts

As ecommerce continues to reshape the global market, brands must proactively address LGBTQ+ issues in their internationalisation efforts. 

By supporting LGBTQ+ charities, promoting inclusivity, donating a percentage of sales, encouraging volunteering, and selecting markets wisely, ecommerce brands can play a vital role in fostering positive change worldwide. 

In this interconnected world, promoting LGBTQ+ rights is not just a moral imperative; it's a crucial step towards building a more inclusive and accepting global society.

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