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:
Access to social security, relief measures and welfare schemes
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
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.
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