Covid-19 shatters the rainbow.
While Covid-19 leaves no country and no individual unaffected, the pandemic imposes specific challenges among LGBTQIA people. This is according to OutRight Action International’s “Vulnerability Amplified: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBTIQ people”, which documents the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on LGBTQIA people.
Drawing on almost 60 rapid research interviews conducted with LGBTQIA people in all regions of the world, some of the specific challenges faced by LGBTQIA people identified in the report are:
- Devastation of livelihoods – rising food and shelter insecurity resulting from job loss, and economic fall out as a result of over-representation of LGBTQIA people in the informal sector and broad employment discrimination;
- Disruptions in accessing health care, including crucial HIV medication and gender affirming treatments, and reluctance to seek health care due to discrimination, stigma and refusal of services experienced by LGBTQIA people even outside a pandemic;
- Elevated risk of domestic and family violence – the most prevalent form of violence faced by LGBTQIA people on a day-to-day basis is heightened in circumstances of lockdowns, curfews and lack of access to support services and community resources;
- Social isolation and increased anxiety which are further heightened by being cut off from chosen families and the LGBTQIA community;
- Scapegoating, societal discrimination and stigma – there is an unfortunate history of LGBTQIA people being blamed for emergency situations, leading to further stigmatization, marginalization, violence and danger;
- Abuse of state power – repression, exclusion, and criminalization are all on the rise in countries prone to authoritarianism and regressive gender ideologies, with some states using the emergency situation to clamp down specifically on LGBTQIA people;
- Concerns about organizational survival – amplifying the effects even further are the impacts on LGBTQIA community organizations and spaces, which are a lifeline to countless LGBTQIA people. Organizations now face an uncertain future with funding cuts, lockdowns, and having to shift activities on line while calls for direct, practical support are on the rise.
According to the executive director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern: “COVID-19 and the surrounding containment measures affect everyone, everywhere. But those most marginalized feel it more. Even in the absence of a pandemic, LGBTQIA people experience higher levels of discrimination, violence and deprivation around the world. Now we are at a heightened risk of domestic and family abuse, we lack access to crucial HIV and gender affirming medication, get scapegoated for the pandemic, and excluded from relief efforts, while being cut off from LGBTQIA organizations and support networks. For us the situation is dire. I fear how many LGBTQIA people will lose their lives because of the amplified vulnerability we face. We need immediate action from governments, the UN, and the philanthropic sector to prevent an LGBTQIA humanitarian crisis.”
The results of the research report are reinforced by initial data from applications to OutRight’s COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund. Within a month of opening for applications, OutRight received over 1,500 requests for help from LGBTIQ organizations across the world, the vast majority requesting resources to alleviate food and shelter insecurity. As ever, LGBTIQ organizations are being called on to step in where other institutions fail to safeguard LGBTIQ people’s health, safety and wellness.