Briefing note: Impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ+ people

Publication language
Date published
30 Apr 2020
Tools, guidelines and methodologies
Accountability to affected populations (AAP), COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Gender, LGBTQI, Protection, Response and recovery
Use in Humanitarian Programme Cycle
All phases of the HPC
Edge Effect

The COVID-19 crisis is having specific impact on people with diverse SOGIESC1 (aka LGBTIQ+ people). Donors and aid organisations can address this by ensuring that COVID-19 humanitarian and development programs recognise people with diverse SOGIESC as a group with rights, needs and strengths, and by supporting diverse SOGIESC CSOs and community-based responses.

LGBTIQ+ people need safe and dignified health care, protection from safety and security risks resulting from movement restrictions, and assistance to overcome loss of livelihoods. In many instances, these challenges faced by LGBTIQ+ people during the COVID-19 crisis are exacerbated by entrenched legal, social and economic inequalities. In addition to needs in the relief phase, discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ+ people in families, communities, workplaces and other contexts will provide additional challenges for re-establishing livelihoods and managing stress during recovery phases. LGBTIQ+ CSOs and allied organisations2 have reported that:

• People with diverse SOGIESC have lost livelihoods, especially transgender and gender diverse people who rely on street-based work or charity. Loss of income and movement restrictions have affected access to food, accommodation and other basic necessities.
• Some LGBTIQ+ people have greater health vulnerability, access to SRHR and trans-specific health care has been compromised, and that diverse SOGIESC inclusive mental health support is needed.
• Shelter-in-place and other constraints have forced some LGBTIQ+ people into potentially unsafe living arrangements with family members who do not accept diversity of gender and/or sexuality.
• Some government responses are not diverse SOGIESC (or gender) aware, and far less actively inclusive or transformative. Officials and community leaders sometimes fail to include people with diverse SOGIESC in distributions. Trans and other ‘visible’ individuals, in particular, are fearful to approach public distributions of basic services. Re-direction of funds to support government responses risks undermining existing progress on inclusion, and may result in relief or recovery that leaves some people out.
• Religious leaders and community members have blamed LGBTIQ+ people for causing the crisis.
• CSOs are undertaking their own community assessment and responses, to fill gaps in official responses.
• Their own organisations (CSOs) are under great stress and need support a) for providing communitybased response and b) to ensure their survival and capacity to resume regular activities post COVID-19. However this crisis is an opportunity to model diverse SOGIESC inclusion within relief and recovery, to build awareness of LGBTIQ+ issues, establishing new partnerships, and create new expectations for future programs.