As the world responds to the devastating impact of COVID-19, it is important to remember that some people are more vulnerable than others in this crisis. We recognise that many people with different characteristics are affected by COVID-19 in different ways, we want to highlight some of the ways in which this pandemic is affecting LGBT+ people across the world.
Marginalised people will disproportionally be affected by COVID-19, particularly those heavily reliant on public services. COVID-19 will hit lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people particularly hard.
LGBT+ people already face considerably more barriers when accessing public services in ordinary circumstances. During a crisis, there is an even greater risk of marginalisation of LGBT+ people trying to access health and essential public services. We call on governments to retain vital services needed to help the most marginalised and vulnerable people in society, so everyone can access the public services they need.
LGBT+ as a vulnerable community during the crisis
Through this period of crisis, we have particular concerns for the LGBT+ community.
Healthcare: Many LGBT+ people already report trouble in accessing health services in ordinary circumstances. The current crisis has shown that it can increase access issues for LGBT+ people. Trans people are particularly affected, with many reports of the healthcare needs of trans and gender-diverse people such as hormone replacement therapy being neglected or postponed.
Vulnerable groups must not be played off against each other to determine who is most deserving.
We are also concerned about LGBT+ people living with chronic illnesses or underlying health conditions such as cancer and HIV, which have higher rates in the LGBT+ community. People with these underlying conditions are more vulnerable to the virus at a moment when health systems are being stretched and their access to routine care may be restricted. With many parts of the world in lockdown, and access to HIV anti-viral medication being limited in some places, governments need to ensure the supply of anti-viral medication to those that require it.
Widespread media reports that certain HIV medication is being researched as a potential treatment for COVID-19, whilst welcome, raise concerns about the supply of these drugs to those who already need them because of their HIV status. Anti-retrovirals must be available to all who require them. Vulnerable groups must not be played off against each other to determine who is most deserving.
Homelessness services: Studies on homelessness estimate that 20-40% of all homeless people are believed to be LGBT+. With the rise of economic hardship and restrictions because of the pandemic, access to these services is becoming increasingly difficult. With many services struggling to cope with demand as more and more homeless people seek shelter, governments must make it a priority to find viable alternative accommodation sources for people that do not have a home to isolate in.
Family violence support: Studies have shown that family is the predominant form of violence within the LGBT+ community, whether it be through intimate partner violence, physical violence and rejection of their sexuality. With people locked in their houses with potentially violent partners or family members with no means to escape, all family violence services must remain running and means to seek help to escape a violent situation made available.
We invite affiliates to lobby their governments for:
Continued government family anti-violence initiatives and the ability for people to report family violence must not be scaled back in this crisis and survivors of family violence must be able to access safe environments.
To invest in LGBT+ initiatives, through social, health and homelessness services, to ensure LGBT+ people have support during this crisis.
To ensure non-discriminatory health practices for LGBT+ people and continuity of care for those that are living with HIV and other chronic illnesses that require continued care and support.