In the run-up to the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) on May 17, human rights experts have called on governments worldwide to “ensure COVID-19 emergency measures do not worsen inequalities or structural barriers faced by people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, or lead to increased violence and discrimination against them”.
The call comes after alarming reports of the COVID-19 pandemic being used in some countries as an excuse for persecution and violence against the LGBTI community.
In April, against the background of increased discrimination and violence, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a guidance note on COVID-19 and human rights of LGBTI people, calling on governments to make specific efforts to protect the LGBTI community.
To mark IDAHOBIT, the IUF will hold a special virtual meeting of its LGBTI and allies committee on May 18 to gather information about the impacts of COVID-19 and develop responses. Welcoming the meeting, committee chair Michele Kessler commented, “Our work as trade union leaders has never mattered more as we fight to keep our workplaces safe. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not stopped discrimination against LGBTI workers across the world. Our work needs to continue. As PRIDE activities are cancelled globally we must all take the opportunity to find other ways to communicate about LGBTI worker issues”.
The Council of Global Unions has also issued a statement reaffirming trade union commitments to “stand up for LGBTI workers and their rights…. and to continue to fight for workplaces free of discrimination and harassment”.