Executive Director, APCOM
On 27 May 2020, our Executive Director attended the virtual roundtable moderated by Randy Boissonnault, former Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, and provided information from APCOM’s Special COVID-19 Series with regards to the key emerging issues and challenges with respect to LGBTQ2I persons in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Since 2007, APCOM as a community network has been working with diverse communities in the Asia Pacific region spanning 35 countries on issues of HIV, Health, Rights and Well-being.
On COVID-19 we have been issuing regular newsletter series since the beginning of the lockdown – early April, and our 6th issue will be out this coming Friday 29 May.
From both our regional outreach and also coordinating Thai LGBTQI civil society during this period – we have gathered the changing needs of the LGBTQI communities.
- Communities have been very fast to pivot their work to support the most marginalized – both in terms of health services, risking their lives to continue to provide HIV services, and also providing food packages – some are even working together with the government to do COVID-19 screening.
- Their changing needs in the first few weeks were PPEs, face masks, sanitizers and accurate COVID-19 prevention messaging – and as the lockdown continues those that work in the informal sector becomes jobless – and that is a lot of the LGBTQI community, and cannot access government relief scheme if there is one. This was particular apparent for sex workers.
- Community organisations are then providing emergency food packages – and they needed funding to be able to provide this, but access to funding is limited, and there isn’t an Asia Pacific wide-community led grant making mechanism to respond to this demand.
- Another issue is coordinating with various agencies for assistance – ranging from within LGBTQI to refer cases, and coordinating with government and international agencies.
- Now some countries are opening up, we are yet to see if employment can restart – and that would be the next challenge around employment and livelihoods.
- There is the need for community-led data collection on the effects of COVID-19, APCOM actually applied to the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for LGBT data collection on the effects of COVID-19 in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. And we hope to hear about this soon.
- Lastly – the mental health needs of the NGOs workers and activists is often overlooked, they are we are under a lot of pressure leading to increased anxiety, poor mental health, and burnt out.
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Capital Pride 2017 by Connect 2 Canada