In observance of the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia on Sunday, United Nations officials called for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people around the world.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged countries to support peace and equality for gay and transgender people across the globe, noting that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has only increased the vulnerability of the LGBTQ+ community.
The coronavirus pandemic has presented some countries with the opportunity to further discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, according to a recent report from OutRight Action International.
“Already facing bias, attacks, and murder simply for who they are or whom they love, many LGBTI people are experiencing heightened stigma as a result of the virus, as well as new obstacles when seeking health care,” Guterres said in a statement.
For example, the Hungarian government is currently preparing legislation to end the legal recognition of transgender people in the country.
Stigma and discrimination are making #LGBTI people more vulnerable during #COVID19. On this International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia, I call on governments to ensure that they #LeaveNoOneBehind in their emergency response.#IDAHOBIT@free_equalpic.twitter.com/T3sj2jkY8o— Michelle Bachelet (@mbachelet) May 17, 2020
In his statement, Guterres also cited recent reports of LGBTQ+ people being targeted by the police in some countries under the guise of enforcing social distancing protocols and stay-at-home orders.
Ugandan police raided an LGBTQ+ shelter in late March, arresting 20 residents and accusing them of violating social distancing measures.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also voiced her concerns over the increased hate and discrimination the LGBTQ+ community is facing amid the pandemic.
“LGBTI people are often exposed to additional stigma, discrimination, and violence, including when seeking medical services — and perhaps saddest of all, within their own families during lockdowns,” Bachelet said in a statement. “They are also in some places being treated as scapegoats for the spread of the virus.”
In South Korea, for example, LGBTQ+ people are being accused of spreading the coronavirus. The accusation comes after the country saw a surge in cases shortly after relaxing social distancing restrictions. As a result, queer and trans South Koreans are experiencing increased threats of violence and discrimination.
Bachelet urged people to “break the silence” by standing up against hate and highlighting the injustices against the LGBTQ+ community.
“Let us counter the homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic attitudes and narratives that have such a devastating impact on the lives of so many human beings worldwide,” she said.