United Nations Human Rights chief said that LGBTI people are among the most vulnerable and marginalised in many societies which put most of them at risk from COVID-19. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the countries to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people do not fear retribution for seeking healthcare amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“In countries where same-sex relations are criminalised or trans people targeted, they might not even seek treatment for fear of arrest or being subjected to violence," said Bachelet in a statement.
The UN Human Rights Office published a new guidance note for States and other stakeholders on COVID-19 and the human rights of LGBTI people, setting out key actions to protect the marginalised community against discrimination. In the two-page guidance, the specialised agency listed other ways LGBTI people may be particularly vulnerable during the pandemic.
For LGBTI people, home may not be a safe place to be. Given #StayAtHome restrictions and lockdown measures, we need to make sure they have access to shelter and support during this #COVID19 crisis.#StandUp4HumanRights🙌 @free_equal— Michelle Bachelet (@mbachelet) April 17, 2020
The guidance pointed towards some “scattered reports” in which LGBTI people were being blamed for the disease. Reports of police using COVID-19 directives to attack and target LGBTI organizations in some countries were also mentioned to highlight the plight of the community. It said that health care discrimination based on sexual orientation have been extensively documented in many countries which can heighten COVID-19 for LGBTI people.
The UN agency said warned that lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have forced LGBTI youth to get confined in hostile environments with unsupportive family members. It added that such environment them at risk of violence or increasing their anxiety or depression which calls for the availability of support services and shelters during this period. Bachelet said that efforts to tackle the pandemic will fructify only when everyone's rights to life and health are protected.
“For LGBTI people, this means identifying and addressing the ways in which they are particularly vulnerable, ensuring they are not discriminated against, and finding solutions. It also means ensuring their voices are heard,” she added.
(Image source: AP)