Life has changed for all of us recently.
But some lesbian, bi, gay and trans (LGBT) people are harder hit than others while socially distancing. It’s clearer than ever that equality is not a luxury; it’s essential for everyone’s safety, health and wellbeing.
What if it isn’t safe to stay at home? Almost a quarter of young people at risk of homelessness are LGBT, usually because their families reject them. More than one in ten LGBT people have faced domestic abuse from a partner, rising to 19 per cent for trans people.
Or what if your home isn’t even recognised? LGBT Traveller Pride, a community-led LGBT Traveller collective in the UK say this is a particularly difficult time for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities.
[It's] because of poor conditions for people who are nomadic... or because of isolation and systemic prejudice.
LGBT Traveller Pride
Or what if you have had to flee your home? LGBT asylum seekers and refugees are staying in cramped rooms with strangers, putting their lives at risk. They already face intrusive questions about their faith, race and LGBT identity when seeking safety in the UK.
Going outside without fear
Not everyone can exercise at home; not everyone has a garden or a spare room.
We’re allowed one daily exercise, and essential trips at the police’s discretion. LGBT people of colour (PoC) are more likely to experience discrimination. While they’re twice as likely to attend LGBT-specific venues or events as white LGBT people, they have now lost vital safe spaces.
For autistic LGBT people who need to maintain a regular routine, the UK Government has clarified guidance to help them continue this and access support from carers.
Going online can be a lifeline. Not all virtual events are accessible for older people or rural communities who may not have reliable internet connections, or for disabled people who need to use adapted technology. The timings of events may also be difficult for people caring for children.
Access to healthcare
Our health services and communities are under unprecedented strain. No one is disposable.
Already, two in five trans people experience a lack of understanding of their specific health needs when accessing general healthcare services. Now, they face delays or cancellations on essential gender-affirming treatment, which many have been waiting years to access.
For some Deaf and disabled LGBT people, it is difficult to practice social distancing and lip-read from two metres away. For some older LGBT people, accessing basic provisions such as their medication is difficult without their support networks. Organisations for older LGBT people like Opening Doors London are filling this gap.
COVID-19 does discriminate
Some LGBT communities are disproportionately impacted. Guardian analysis shows that Asian and Black patients account for a third of patients in hospital, despite making up a quarter of the population in the same areas. The National Care Forum says that over 4000 older people have died in care homes, but only 5 per cent of these deaths were counted within national statistics before 3 April. This is heart-breaking – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the British Medical Association, has called on the UK Government to include ‘daily updates on ethnicity, circumstance and all protected characteristics of all patients’.
If you don't measure it, then that problem doesn't exist.
Dr Zubaida Haque, Deputy Director of the Runnymede Trust, quoted in the Guardian
Until we have this data, we won’t truly understand the impact on all LGBT communities, or how we can respond and save lives.
Why our work for LGBT equality is essential
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has called on all countries to take targeted actions to protect LGBT people amid the pandemic.
Whether it’s through solidarity or mutual aid, fundraising or campaigning, we can all play our part.
That’s why we’re submitting evidence to Government inquiries into the impacts of COVID-19 on our communities. We’re also calling for Government funding for LGBT organisations doing essential work to relieve pressure on stretched frontline services.
Whatever your situation, you’re not alone.