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NHRC Issues Human Rights Advisory For Protection Of LGBTQI+ Rights Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

20 Oct 2020 12:26 PM GMT
NHRC Issues Human Rights Advisory For Protection Of LGBTQI+ Rights Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
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Deeply concerned about the rights of vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Human Rights Commission has issued the "Human Rights Advisory for Protection of the Rights of LGBTQI+ community in context of COVID-19 pandemic".

The advisory is based on the findings and suggestions made by the 'Committee of Experts on Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Human Rights and Future Response'. The Committeee, comprising of representatives from the civil society organizations, independent domain experts, and the representatives from the concerned ministries/ department, found:

"During the Pandemic the LGBTQI+ community has suffered from unemployment, lack of livelihoods, hostile home situations and restricted mobility, which have contributed to severe mental health concerns among transgender and queer people. Because of the lockdown, they have been forced to stay with their families who are not always supportive or affirmative of their sexual and gender identities and/or expressions. Confinement in homes has given rise to marriage threats, physical, emotional and sexual abuse with no escape. They are also robbed of the opportunity to access safe spaces, support groups and public life. Individuals have been forced to conceal their preferred gender sexual expressions and live a life of pretence, which has stimulated self-hate, depression, homelessness and suicidal thoughts."

Accordingly, it suggested the following measures be taken, both by the Central Government as well as the Governments in various States/ UTs:

Access to Health Services:

  • Ensure no discrimination in the availability of essential health services at the Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, Mohalla clinics, and quarantine centres.
  • Ensure uninterrupted availability of antiretroviral treatment (ART), HIV testing, hormonal treatment (HRT) and gender affirming treatments including mental health treatments/therapies and counselling for LGBTQI+ community through all districts and local hospitals and medical health centres even during the pandemic.
  • Healthcare professionals and staff should be sensitised about the specific needs of the LGBTQI+ community in order to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Access to social security, relief measures and welfare schemes

  • All relief measures/welfare schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, Pradhan Mantri, Ujjwala Yojana, etc, should take into account gender diversity and vulnerabilities of LGBTQI+ community especially, in terms of eligibility requirements like ID proofs, and ensure that transgender and intersex persons are fully covered under these schemes.
  • Universalization of PDS to ensure availability of food and ration for the LGBTQI+ community irrespective of identity document.

Protection from Domestic Violence and Abuse:

Ensure implementation of existing guidelines and protocols, medico-legal care for survivors of domestic and sexual violence along with timely treatment, psycho-social support and medico-legal documentation in cases of domestic/sexual violence victims.

Separate 24*7 toll free helpline number for LGBTQI+ community:

A separate helpline number may be set up to provide support in different regional languages for coping with violence, abuse, health and mental health issues etc.

Financial Support to LGBTQI+ Community:

The government may provide appropriate financial support to the economically vulnerable section of the LGBTQI+ community who have lost their livelihood due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

Protection from Eviction:

Ensure that no person from the LGBTQI+ community is forcefully evicted from their place of stay on the grounds of gender-based discrimination.

Protection of Transgender and Intersex persons in Prison

  • Ensure that there is no discrimination and abuse in the process of incarceration of transgender and intersex persons in prison during the pandemic.
  • Ensure equal access to healthcare services along with other gender sensitive health services including the availability of a gynaecologist/other specialists and regular check-ups inside prisons.

Skill Development of LGBTQI+ community:

Keeping in view the rising unemployment during Covid-19 pandemic the government should ensure skill development opportunities for the LGBTQI+ community.

Access to Education fur the LGBTQI+ community:

Ensure provision of education through online classes is inclusive for and accessible to all members of the LGBTQI+ community and no discrimination shall be made on the basis of their identity/gender.

Click Here To Read Advisory

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