A new consultation by Kaleidoscope Trust of 34 LGBTI+ charities working in 37 Commonwealth countries reveals an unfolding humanitarian crisis for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and gender-diverse (LGBTI+) people across the Commonwealth as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 outbreak and governments’ responses to it – both nationally and as donors of international aid – are making worse the threats that inequality, exclusion, discrimination and poverty already pose to LGBTI+ people across the world every day.
Emergency situations have a disproportionate impact on marginalised communities, and the consultation has revealed an uncertain and deteriorating situation for LGBTI+ organisations and communities in all regions of the Commonwealth.
88% of those consulted are concerned about the wellbeing of their staff and volunteers
85% are concerned about the wellbeing of their service users, and their organisation’s ability to deliver meaningful interventions during the Covid-19 crisis
81% are concerned about their current and projected losses of income.
In many countries, there is often only one or a very small number of LGBTI+ charities providing services to and supporting LGBTI+ people – organisations whose very survival is at stake. The pandemic has intensified the risks to LGBTI+ people of job loss, of housing and food insecurity, to physical and mental wellbeing and safety, and of lack of access to health services and life-saving medication.
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, says:
“We are witnessing an emerging humanitarian crisis for LGBTI+ people as government responses to Covid-19 leave vulnerable LGBTI+ communities at grave risk. Commonwealth states must act now to prevent further deterioration of the situation domestically, and the UK has the opportunity to show international leadership in its role as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office.
“The Commonwealth Equality Network contributed to the UK government recognising and expressing regret for anti-LGBTI+ laws that were enacted across the Commonwealth during the UK’s colonial regime. LGBTI+ human rights are important during the best of times and the worst of times. If the government is to make good on its promise to address and redress colonial-era wrongs, then LGBTI+ people across the Commonwealth cannot be left behind during the Covid-19 crisis.
“The structural vulnerabilities codified in laws and social attitudes in countries across the world are made worse during a crisis like Covid-19. The UK government has a responsibility to ensure LGBTI+ human rights work is able to continue during the Covid-19 crisis.”
Kaleidoscope Trust is calling on the UK government and funding bodies to:
Allocate immediate and substantive Covid-19 relief funding that allows grassroots activists and civil society organisations to design and deliver rapid relief programmes to the communities they serve
Listen to civil society organisations about their current funding needs, so any allocated funding can be appropriately redistributed to tackle the immediate Covid-19 crisis
Make additional funding available in 2021-22 so that any longer-term work that was hindered, paused or stopped completely because of Covid-19 can move forward again
Kaleidoscope Trust’s consultation and report includes the testimony of 41 LGBTI+ individuals from 34 member organisations of The Commonwealth Equality Network, covering 37 of 54 Commonwealth countries.
Read the report