“I fear how many LGBTIQ people will lose their lives because of the amplified vulnerability we face.”
A new report from OutRight Action International has documented the effects of the coronavirus on the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ organisation has conducted 60 interviews with queer people in 38 countries from regions across the world, and it shows that LGBTQ+ people have been disproportionately impacted as a result of the pandemic.
According to OutRight, the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people due to the coronavirus are as follows:
Devastation of livelihoods – The community is facing food and shelter insecurity due to job loss and “economic fall out as a result of over-representation of LGBTQ+ people in the informal section and broad employment discrimination.”
Disruptions in accessing healthcare – With hospitals seeing an increase in coronavirus patients every day, queer people are struggling to access their HIV medication and gender affirming treatments. LGBTQ people are also more reluctant to visit hospitals because of potential discrimination in healthcare settings.
Elevated risk of domestic and family violence – LGBTQ+ people who aren’t accepted by their families face higher levels of violence in lockdown, and will feel ostracised due to the lack of support services and community resources.
Social isolation and increased anxiety – With queer people unable to see their chosen families, stuck inside with relatives who may not accept them, their mental health is likely to suffer.
Scapegoating, societal discrimination and stigma – Throughout history, the LGBTQ+ community has been blamed for numerous emergency situations, which leads to further discrimination, stigmatisation and violence.
Abuse of state power – In countries prone to authoritarianism and regressive gender ideologies, repression, exclusion and criminalisation is on the rise, with many anti-LGBTQ+ regions using the coronavirus as an opportunity to discriminate against queer people.
Concerns about organizational survival – Like a lot of other businesses and organisations, those that have an emphasis on supporting the LGBTQ+ community face an uncertain future due to financial cuts.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, said in a statement: “COVID-19 and the surrounding containment measures affect everyone, everywhere. But those most marginalized feel it more. Even in the absence of a pandemic, LGBTIQ 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 LGBTIQ organizations and support networks.
“For us the situation is dire. I fear how many LGBTIQ 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 LGBTIQ humanitarian crisis.”
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, OutRight has launched the COVID-19 response, an emergency fund, a webinar series, story-sharing through OutRight TV, as well as the study above which you can view in its entirety here.