Supporting LGBT Communities in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Burris, S., de Guia, S., Gable, L., Levin, D.E., Parmet, W.E., Terry, N.P. (Eds.) (2020). Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19. Boston: Public Health Law Watch
6 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2020 Last revised: 25 May 2021
Date Written: July 31, 2020
LGBT individuals suffer disproportionately in the COVID-19 pandemic. They are likely to be exposed to COVID-19 in greater numbers and suffer to a greater degree if they contract the disease. They are more likely to lose access to essential medical services, including gender confirmation and HIV medications. They are likely to suffer economic harms to a greater degree, since they are more likely to work in industries with exposure to, and likely to close because of COVID-19. They also are more likely to experience mental and emotional harms arising from the isolation, or sheltering-in-place COVID-19 necessitates. Such isolation often occurs with hostile or violent family members, while LGBT safe-spaces, organizations, institutions, and events, such as LGBT pride and LGBT centers are shut down or go virtual. This can take a toll on physical, emotional, and mental health, especially for youth and elderly LGBT individuals. Finally, when LGBT individuals seek assistance from elsewhere, including through social services, homeless shelters, and welfare, they often suffer discrimination. All these harms fall even more dis-proportionally on LGBT people of color and transgender individuals. To combat these harms, policymakers must implement stringent anti-discrimination protections and policies that cover the needs of LGBT individuals such as access to certain medical services. But more importantly, they should ensure that the LGBT organizations providing these services in a safe space remain funded and open. They should also collect data on the LGBT community.
Note: This paper was prepared as part of Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19, a comprehensive report published by Public Health Law Watch in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation and the American Public Health Association.
Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus, legal responses, pandemic, public health, law, public health law, LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, transgender, discrimination
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