Protecting the LGBTQI+ community in India during the COVID-19 pandemic
The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) has called attention to the grave effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the LGBTQI+ community in its latest advisory to government. The advice highlights that support for LGBTQI+ people is severely lacking while instances of violence against the community are increasing. Many people in this group do not have access to government identification or official documentation and cannot access relief packages, refuge or care services. Some in the community earn from sex work and begging, and their livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic.
The NHRC particularly cited that transgender and intersex people, many of whom live in abject poverty, face extreme health risks and social exclusion. Throughout the pandemic, LGBTQI+ people have faced unemployment, diminishing livelihood, hostile home situations and restricted movement, which have culminated in severe mental health concerns among transgender and queer people.
The advisory issued by the NHRC makes recommendations to government to support LGBTQI+ people in nine key areas:
- access to health services
- access to social security, relief measures and welfare schemes
- protection from domestic violence and abuse
- a dedicated 24/7 toll free helpline
- financial support for the community
- protection from eviction
- protection of transgender and intersex persons in prison
- skill development of LGBTQI+ persons
- access to education