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Over hele verden har vi set, hvordan civilsamfundets rettigheder blevet udfordret og begrænsede under coronakrisen – særligt i samfund, der allerede inden krisen var præget af vold og diskrimination. I de afrikanske lande, hvor LGBT+ Danmark samarbejder med lokale organisationer, står LGBT+ personer og organisationer over for forstærket prækaritet og undertrykkelse som følge af coronakrisen. På alle niveauer af det offentlige og private liv, er der sket en forøget, målrettet diskrimination, hvilket har ført til til flere arrestationer og mere vold i MENA-regionen og i Østafrika. Samtidigt betyder en række Covid-19-forholdsregler, at de personer, der har behov for specifikke sundhedsydelser, eller som ikke føler sig trygge hjemme, er særligt udsatte.
For at yde specifik hjælp til lokalsamfundene, har lokale organisationer oprettet en række støtteinitiativer. I de lande LGBT+ Danmark arbejder i har LGBT+ personer åbnet deres hjem for dem i miljøet, der ikke har andet sted at gå hen, som ikke er sikre i deres familie eller som ikke har råd til mad. LGBT+ personer, organisationer og allierede står således sammen for at sikre lige rettigheder, lige adgang til basale behov og lige sikkerhed under coronakrisen og fremover.
LGBT+ people and Covid-19 in our countries of action:
Around the world, the rights of civil society are being challenged and limited, particularly for communities who suffered violence and discrimination prior to Covid-19. Among them, LGBT+ communities globally suffer from social and economic exclusion, targeted private and public violence, limited access to education, health and housing…
These conditions were reinforced by national and international measures aiming to prevent Covid-19: cases of abuse and discriminations multiply while LGBT+ people are often suspected to be the cause of Covid-19 spreading by LGBTphobic groups. In this context, very insufficient specific measures are provided, and they fail to protect communities in this period of financial, political and social focus on the pandemic crisis. LGBT+ people who suffer from additional discriminations are particularly at risk during this period: LGBT+ individuals with a migrant background, elderly communities, HIV positive people…
In the African countries in which LGBT+ Denmark supports local organisations, cases of violence and discriminations are currently numerous. In East Africa, although measures imposed by the government are essential and efficient to stem the pandemic, there are drawbacks for people with no regular income. Among them, LGBT+ individuals are additionally deeply exposed to further marginalization and poverty. Because of the discrimination systems in the labour market, many LGBT+ people live in poverty. Most of them do not have a permanent job with a fixed salary, but work informally and are paid daily, for example as a sex worker. Because of these measures, the income of most LGBT+ people is completely lost during the pandemic crisis. Since there is no support or unemployment benefit provided by the government, LGBT+ people who already live in poverty are hit extra hard. They do not have the means to buy the most essential things, such as food, medicines or soap. In parallel, some actions target especially the safety and security of LGBT+ people, for example in Uganda where many people were arrested and jailed under the guise of Covid-19 measures, but in reality, because they were LGBT+. Another immediate need is psychosocial support/counselling for LGBT+ people in all countries, to palliate the meaningful decline in psychological wellbeing related to stress, fear for oneself’s health and future, psychological violence, threats of physical violence, or uncertainty. In some cases, the need is more urgent than others. For instance, the current lockdown period coincides with the Rwandan months of remembrance of the genocide against the Tutsi. The Rwandan population describes this period “a month of emotions”. This compounds the current mental pressure of the pandemic, while violence towards LGBT+ persons is also increasing in the country.
On the other hand, beautiful initiatives have been carried out by LGBT+ Denmark’s partner organisations, their leaders and members of the LGBT+ community in general. For instance, an active LILO counselor in Kenya has started a fundraiser amongst her SoMe network and has, within 15 hours, raised almost 4000 kes for food relief. Several other organisations in LGBT+ Denmark’s countries of action are currently fundraising for their shelters, mostly for food packs.
In the North African Region, hatred is exploding since there is no governmental support provided for communities, while state LGBT+-phobia is performed. A recent movement of online hate and outing of LGBT+ people in Morocco brought attention to the fragility of community rights and security in a period in which all the attention is given to Covid-19. Other actions not directly targeted against LGBT+ communities are actually heavily and specifically impacting them. For example, in Tunisia, limited access to sexual health has a direct impact on communities who often need permanent access to specific and adapted sexual healthcare. In parallel, in the country, arrests and police controls have tremendously increased, which reinforces discriminatory and violent systems against LGBT+ communities. More broadly, the lockdown measures in the regions have also multiplied the cases of domestic violence from which LGBT+ communities are particularly victims. As most people from the LGBT+ community are students who spend the majority of the year away from toxic households, worked day to day jobs such as call centers, and lived independently from their families, because of the pandemic they no longer hold these jobs nor go to school and are obliged to return to queerphobic living situations and homes. Many members of the community are also self-employed freelancers whom this situation is affecting gravely. Unable to seek refuge from domestic violence through school or work, communities do not have safe spaces they can access to escape daily abuse. The number of homelessness, unemployment or health precarity have also been intensely raised.
In countries where LGBT+ persons are often criminalised and where communities can be rejected from society due to their SOGIESC, to provide an efficient response is often impossible or limited. To collect data from LGBT+ communities is extremely hard, thus to respond appropriately is intricate. LGBT+ NGOs and civil society activists suffer from important lack of funding prior to COVID-19 – LGBTQ+ work represents 0,04% of governmental funding globally – , the current crisis makes it even harder for them to realise their work and to support the local communities.
LGBT+ Denmark calls for the Danish government to use its voice in favour of international rights and of targeted measures to protect oppressed communities. LGBT+ Denmark also praises the action of many local organisations, leaders and members of the community who have been actively engaged in ways to support their peers. LGBT+ persons in all countries have opened their home to accommodate their peers who have nowhere else to go, who aren’t safe in their family or who can’t afford food. Vulnerable LGBT+ persons with food, soap, and medicines distributed to the most vulnerable members of the community. This direct support helps these people and their families in the short term in their livelihoods, and through their contribution improves the position of these people in their families. LGBT+ individuals, organisations and allies stand together to ensure equal rights, equal access to basic needs and equal security during the Covid-19 period and beyond.