4 years since Covid-19: Impact of the pandemic on LGBTQI people in the Asia-Pacific Region

By May 16, 2024 May 17th, 2024 Advocacy, Publications, Regional

On the occasion of 2024 IDAHOBIT and 4th anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic, APCOM and 14 community partner organisations releases the report, ‘Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on LGBTQ+ people in the Asia-Pacific Region: Findings from an online survey’, aimed to inform policymakers and program managers about the pandemic’s impact on the lives of LGBTQI people – not to leave LGBTQI people in the Asia-Pacific region behind.

“The pandemic has worsened human rights violations, social inequality and vulnerability of the LGBTIQ+ community already exists in the region. The survey is vital as a guideline for us to address the impact of COVID-19 and similar incidents in the future. Remember the goal of ‘leaving no one behind’? This is the time to keep that promise.”

I Ketut Purba Widnyana

“SOGIESC communities have faced numerous dimensions of newly emerged or intensified issues and problems during Covid-19. Many of those might not get well reflected through generalised surveys. This community focused survey will be helpful to bring out more in-depth insights of those troubles and sufferings.” 

Mohammad Rezwanur Rahman 
Asia Regional Coordinator, 
Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR)

“We are living in a data driven world and without data on the effect of Covid-19 on LGBTIQ+ community, it is not possible to frame policy or adopt sustainable strategy to safeguard the community from future pandemic-like situations. This survey data and information will assist all of us to have a deeper understanding of the current needs and help shape the supporting methods.”

Md Firoz Miah
Project Associate
Inclusive Bangladesh

“It is important to collect data to help policymakers and stakeholders to get a fuller picture on whether pandemic-related measures have been applied in a discriminatory manner. While special measures might be required to combat COVID-19, it is counterproductive if they are applied in ways that discriminate against LGBT+ persons.” 

Jerome Yau
Chief Executive
Pink Alliance

“With the documentation of cases in the GMT community due to the covid 19 pandemic, it is an effort to advocate to the government so that the GMT community can be treated properly.”

Wawa Akwa Reswana
Project Officer
Gaya Warna Lentera Indonesia (GWL-INA)

Though Covid-19 has been more contained, the countries in the Asia-Pacific region must take swift action to prevent discrimination and improve access to healthcare and social services for LGBTQI individuals, and be better prepared during public health crises.

“APCOM believes that by consistently amplifying the voices of our communities, we are showing them they are never forgotten or alone, and it is our duty to ensure visibility. APCOM, partner organisations, communities and individuals have demonstrated resourcefulness, resilience and the ability to reach the most marginalised. It is essential that we do not lose our ability to continue to act together and support each other.”

Midnight, APCOM Executive Director 

The study found that 24.3% of participants lost their jobs,
and 22.8% were evicted from their homes during the pandemic. 

Discrimination was reported by 21-36% of participants in accessing various services,
including Covid-19 benefits, supplies, and treatment. 

Many attributed this discrimination to their sexual orientation,
gender identity, or HIV status. 

The survey also revealed that 42-84% reported reduced access to LGBTQI affirmative services, including mental health, general health, counseling, and drug treatment.

Access to HIV-related and gender-affirmative medical services was also limited,
with reduced access reported by 42-71%.

Equally important, is the need for communities and organisations to be able to continue their very existence and continue to show resilience. It is crucial not to lose the momentum, the togetherness and the solidarity which APCOM and partners have built up in the last years since the pandemic by working collectively, democratically and concertedly towards comprehensive responses. 

Address Intersectional Stigma and Discrimination: 
Implement anti-discrimination policies and awareness campaigns to combat discrimination based on SOGIE and HIV status when accessing social welfare, benefits, and health services, especially during public health crises like Covid-19. 

Ensure Equal Access to Welfare Measures and Services: 
Take steps to guarantee equal access to Covid-19 related social welfare, benefits, supplies, and health services, including vaccination, for all individuals, irrespective of their SOGIE or HIV status.

Provide Safe Housing and Mitigate Consequence of Domestic Violence: 
Offer targeted mental health support services, shelters, or transitional housing options for LGBTQI individuals experiencing domestic violence, particularly from parents or partners. Introduce policies to protect LGBTQI individuals from housing discrimination and eviction.

Protect Job Security and Provide Financial Assistance: 
Safeguard job security, prevent workplace discrimination based on SOGIE or HIV status, and provide financial assistance and job training programs, especially for LGBTQI sex workers during crisis situations like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ensure Access to Mental Health Support: 
Ensure access to mental health services and LGBTQI peer support groups, both in-person and virtually, to address the heightened stigma and discrimination faced by LGBTQI individuals, especially those in sex work or living with HIV.

Support LGBTQ+ Students: 
Collaborate with educational institutions to develop flexible learning options, financial aid, and mental health resources to support LGBTQI students who have been forced to quit education due to Covid-19 or their SOGIE status.

Increase Funding for LGBTQ+ Community Organizations: 
Allocate additional funding and resources to LGBTQI community organizations to provide essential services like housing assistance, food banks, and educational support to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

Ensure Inclusion in Pandemic Response Planning:
Take steps to ensure the inclusion of LGBTQI individuals in pandemic response planning and decision-making processes to address their unique needs and experiences in policy and program development

Support LGBTQI Organizations: 
Governments and donors should provide financial support and organizational development assistance to LGBTQI organizations and activists to ensure uninterrupted social support and advocacy for LGBTQI rights.

Continue Research to Inform Policies & Programs: 
Encourage ongoing research to explore the challenges and needs of LGBTQI individuals during public health crises, focusing on intersectionality and marginalized subgroups within the LGBTQI community. Use the findings to inform targeted interventions and policies.

Thank you to Outright International’s COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund for supporting APCOM in gathering community generated stories from our community across Asia-Pacific, and on how Covid-19 has affected their lives. 

Thank you to our community partner organisations for taking part:

  • Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Bangladesh;
  • Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR);
  • DAST, Sri Lanka;
  • GAYa NUSANTARA, Indonesia;
  • GWL-INA, Indonesia;
  • The Humsafar Trust, India;
  • Inclusive Bangladesh, Bangladesh;
  • Lighthouse, Vietnam;
  • MHSS, Cambodia;
  • Pink Alliance, Hong Kong;
  • Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organization (RoCK), Cambodia;
  • Taiwan Equality Campaign, Taiwan;
  • Tonga Leitis Association, Tonga;
  • Young Pride Club, Thailand.

Thank you to Dr. Venkatesan Chakrapani, Centre for Sexuality and Health Research and Policy (C-SHaRP), India, for conducting analysis and assisting in drafting this brief.

Check out what we did previous years
since the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020

1st Anniversary 2021

2nd Anniversary 2022

3rd Anniversary 2023

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