COVID-19 Amplifies LGBT Vulnerability

LGBTs are suffering disproportionately compared to the broader population during the COVID-19 crisis.

The effects of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and the worldwide lockdown on the LGBT community have become clear in OutRight Action International’s new report, “Vulnerability Amplified: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBTIQ People.”

These include disruption in healthcare, increased levels of domestic violence, human rights abuses and mental health issues.

READ: OutRight International’s report HERE.

“While everyone in the world is susceptible to infection the world is not going to experience the pandemic equally,” said Amie Bishop, a senior research adviser at OutRight and the report’s author.

OutRight’s report broadened the understanding of the effects of the pandemic on LGBT people around the world. It highlighted the inadequacies of governments’ responses regarding queer people and community organisations on the ground that have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic. It also went beyond the United Nations’ findings of attacks on the LGBT community in its COVID-19 and human rights report in April.

The specific challenges faced by LGBT people identified in OutRight’s new 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 LGBT 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 LGBT people even outside a pandemic;
  • Elevated risk of domestic and family violence – the most prevalent form of violence faced by LGBT 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 LGBT community;
  • Scapegoating, societal discrimination and stigma – there is an unfortunate history of LGBT people being blamed for emergency situations, leading to further stigmatisation, marginalisation, violence and danger;
  • Abuse of state power – repression, exclusion, and criminalisation 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 LGBT people;
  • Concerns about organisational survival – amplifying the effects even further are the impacts on LGBT community organisations and spaces, which are a lifeline to countless LGBT people. Organisations 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.