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Outright's Statement for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Intersexphobia





Jessica Stern

May 17 marks the International Statement for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Intersexphobia. It is a day to reflect on the progress made in the recognition and protection of the human rights of LGBTIQ people, to zoom in on remaining challenges, and raise awareness about the levels of discrimination, harassment and violence LGBTIQ communities around the world continue to face every day, even in countries with explicit legislative and policy protections in place. Despite much progress in many places, there isn't a single country in the world in which LGBTIQ people can live free from discrimination, harassment, and violence. 

Normally on this day there would be marches, protests, and a wide variety of small and large, closed-door and public, events designed to challenge the stigma which prevents LGBTIQ people from accessing the same rights and freedoms as the broader population. 

This year, as COVID-19 containment lockdowns and social distancing measures continue to be in place around the world, we can not mark the day in physical manifestations. Yet in the midst of this pandemic, the importance of this day is, perhaps, even more paramount. Because during times of crisis, vulnerable communities, such as LGBTIQ people, become more vulnerable, leading to, in some cases, death, and serving as a painful and sobering reminder of the levels of exclusion LGBTIQ people still face.

A couple of weeks ago Outright International issued a report - “Vulnerability Amplified: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBTIQ People” - documenting mounting food and shelter insecurity due to overrepresentation of LGBTIQ people in the informal sector, higher barriers of access to healthcare, rising levels of domestic and family violence, and an inability to access non-intersectional emergency relief. Moreover, in numerous places, including Zimbabwe, Russia, the USA, Liberia, Ukraine and others, LGBTIQ people are scapegoated for the pandemic, boosting discrimination and hate even more. 

Outright’s research report sounds an alarm - for LGBTIQ people today, the situation is dire. Without urgent interventions, LGBTIQ people will experience dramatic increases of hunger, homelessness, violence and even death because of the pandemic and the amplified vulnerability and exclusion we experience at this time.

On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Intersexphobia, we need immediate action from governments, the UN, and the philanthropic sector to prevent an LGBTIQ humanitarian crisis. And in the long term, we need comprehensive, sustainable measures to ensure genuine and lasting inclusion and acceptance of LGBTIQ people.

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