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Global LGBTQ groups prepare COVID-19 response

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Global LGBTQ groups prepare COVID-19 response

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world, global LGBTQ groups are preparing for the impact of the coronavirus to protect their communities, especially the most vulnerable.

Already, national and local health organizations have warned of the impact the coronavirus may have on the vulnerable sectors, including the LGBTQ communities.

Global LGBTQ groups addressing worldwide challenge

With the rising number of infected cases and the increasing number of deaths, the pandemic is now affecting everyone– and it’s only just the beginning.

“This is maybe the first time in history where we’ve had a problem that is so truly global that it really affects pretty much every single person on the planet,” Steve Roth, executive director for the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration told the Bay Area Reporter.

“No one is immune,” Roth said. “Now more than ever we have to think about those who are most vulnerable among us.”

“We are still in the early days. We are going to hear a lot more as the pandemic unfolds across the world,” said Maria Sjodin, deputy executive director at OutRight Action International.

“I think with a pandemic like this the people who are more vulnerable are often typically becoming even more vulnerable in times of crisis, in times of epidemic,” said Sjodin.

Sjodin further said that despite LGBT people wanting to look to their families for safety and be with them, “LGBT people are not always safe with their families.”

LGBTQ individuals being pushed into isolation, danger

Global LGBTQ experts warned that LGBTQ people in repressive regions, as well as refugees and asylum seekers face further isolation and danger.

For example, the LGBTQ communities in Middle East Arab countries face further isolation with the shutdown of community spaces with LGBTQ individuals stuck with their families or alone.

Omar Al Khatib of the Palestinian LGBT+ group alQaws, which is based in Jerusalem, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “The environment we live in, unfortunately, can be aggressive toward LGBTQ people.”

Because of this, Middle Eastern LGBTQ organizations like alQaws and the Tunisia-based Mawjoudin have ramped up their helplines to address the increase in calls and to deliver HIV medications.

Meanwhile, Proud Lebanon’s volunteers are going around delivering medications to its members as many of them are afraid to go out or don’t have transport, director Bertho Makso told Reuters.

Global LGBTQ groups helping refugees, asylum seekers

Those who have fled their own countries and are facing resettlement are also facing this new challenge to their survival.

Roth said that many LGBTQ groups on the ground helping in refugee camps around the world are bracing for the potential arrival of the virus.

These include refugees at the Greece-Turkey border, asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, and refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Efforts include gathering critical supplies for LGBTQ migrant shelters, like food and rent, clean water and soap, sanitation supplies, and education on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many governments around the world are closing borders and shutting down the processing of asylum seekers and refugees during the pandemic.

Global LGBTQ groups preparing virtual Pride parades

Needed social distancing has also forced Pride organizers to cancel or postpone their events, with more than 220 Pride celebrations already affected.

To address the isolation LGBTQ individuals are facing during the pandemic, groups are looking for other ways to reach out to their communities, i.e. providing alternative spaces online to celebrate.

“LGBT people around the world are insanely resilient, but they face isolation every day in their life,” said J. Andrew Baker, co-President of Interpride, the international association of Pride organizers.

To address this, Interpride and the European Pride Organisers Association, are pushing a “Global Pride” online on June 27. This will be a 24-hour live streamed event from all over the world.

With several hundred Prides around the world expected to sign up, the event will feature speeches from human rights activists, workshops, and high-profile performers yet to be confirmed.

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