On the 18th of March 2021, Access Chapter 2 (AC2) launched the LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) Inclusive Advocacy-based COVID-19 Responses Campaign, addressing the issue of access to public services and accurate information for LGBTI+ persons in South Africa amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 together with necessary Disaster Regulations, such as a national lockdown enforcing travel restrictions, confinement to home for non-essential workers and the closure of public places and gatherings, caused a strain on the economy and the provision of basic services. The LGBTI+ individuals in South Africa face multiple human rights violations when accessing public services due to reasons related to stigma and discrimination on the grounds of gender identity, sexual orientation, and sex characteristics, which are inequalities worsened by the pandemic.
One of the eminent illustrations of disproportionate effects specific to the LGBTI+ community is that during the stricter levels of the lockdown, there were reports of increased rates of Gender-Based Violence. However, government interventions mainly focused on cisgender heteronormative persons, leaving the LGBTI+ community without access to information and emergency shelter. Other reported inequalities in South Africa include loss of employment, homelessness, reduced access to health services and legal services.
According to the LGBTI+ In The Commonwealth In The COVID-19 Era Consultation Report published by The Commonwealth Equality Network, in partnership with Kaleidoscope International Trust, there are significant Global Key findings from the pandemic (The Commonwealth Equality Network & Kaleidoscope Trust International, 2020). Those that were relevant in a South African context are as follows:
• The LGBTI+ civil society organisations, the livelihoods of staff, and volunteers were under threat as donors and governments diverted financial and human resources away from LGBTI+ causes.
• There were new obstacles in providing essential services that support and advocate with and for LGBTI+ persons in already challenging circumstances that emerged.
• Acts of discrimination and stigmatization increased, putting the lives of LGBTI+ persons at risk.
• The threat to employment and housing worsened the impoverishment of LGBTI+ persons.
• The access to critical emergency goods and services such as food, medication, and shelter was threatened.
• Access to justice systems were reduced as judicial proceedings were disrupted and delayed.
Thus, AC2 is running the COVID-19 Response Campaign to gather and present Key findings specific to LGBTI+ persons residing in South Africa. The following themes will be explored: the threat to Food and Security, access to Physical and Mental Health facilities including Psychosocial and Empowerment services, access to Education and Learning Facilities, Employment, and Government Assistance such as the UIF, the Debt Relief Fund, and overall financial assistance. AC2 will further publish online communication generating awareness about the effects of the pandemic, accompanied by a national webinar with the purpose of educating and empowering members of the LGBTI+ community. The campaign will conclude with the launch of an online Human Rights Violations reporting and tools system for LGBTI+ persons and organisations, adolescent girls and young women, which was developed by AC2 and can be used by members of the public to electronically report human rights violations to AC2.
Access Chapter 2 is a non-profit organisation focusing on the human rights of LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) persons, women, and girls in all their diversities.
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