As the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus continues relentlessly, I hope you and your loved ones are finding ways to stay safe, healthy, connected and hopeful. OutRight is continuing to work from home, and adjust our work to respond to the global crisis.
Three weeks ago we launched the OutRight COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund in collaboration with founding partners Calvin Klein, Inc., Microsoft Corp. and the Dunn Family Charitable Foundation. Within the first few days of opening applications, we have received almost 500 requests from across the world. The need is undoubtedly great and very urgent.
We know well that during times of crisis, vulnerable communities become more vulnerable. So we know that LGBTIQ people face particular and amplified challenges at this time. But we wanted to understand exactly how LGBTIQ people are affected by the pandemic, to identify the greatest challenges, and the greatest needs so that we can shape our work to support our global community as the situation continues to unfold.
I am pleased to tell you that over the last three weeks we have been working on a rapid research project to document the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people globally. Our entire team has been working with OutRight's Research Coordinator Amie Bishop to conduct over 50 interviews with LGBTIQ people in all regions of the world. We are currently going through the data and conducting analysis, and plan to launch the report by the end of the month.
So far our suspicions have been met - LGBTIQ people are experiencing particular challenges in this time. We are hearing of increasing domestic violence across the world, of trans people being fined in countries with gender based lockdown measures, such as Panama and Peru. A few religious leaders in Liberia, the US and elsewhere, and several media personalities in Russia have taken the opportunity to scapegoat LGBTIQ people for the outbreak, deeming it God’s punishment for LGBTIQ acceptance. We have also been told about exponential growth in requests for shelter and food, as LGBTIQ people lose their jobs and homes, and can not return to unsupportive families, and the struggles organizations face in addressing these needs while having to stay closed and physically distant.
As we finalize the report, I invite you to read these blogs (part 1 and part 2) from the LGBTIQ community in China, where the virus first broke out, for insight into the challenges our friends faced and their bravery in helping not only LGBTIQ people, but society as a whole tackle the unfolding crisis. You can also continue to tune in to OutRight TV for daily episodes featuring LGBTIQ people across the world - we are hearing unique, harrowing and heartwarming stories, coping strategies and hopes. And lastly, take the opportunity to hear OutRight staff present on a wide variety of topics – a list of upcoming webinars is available here.
Thank you for your ongoing support for our cause!
Jessica Stern, Executive Director, OutRight Action International
Published on April 15, 2020 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization