Protect LGBTIQA young people and adolescents living with unsupportive families during quarantine, lockdown or curfew
The COVID-19 outbreak has been quickly escalating around the world in the past weeks and killing as many as 100,000 people worldwide. Things are rapidly changing and governments around the world have been placing various measures to curb the hike in infection. Health experts have been calling for social-distancing, which has been turned into a city-wide, or sometimes a nation-wide lockdown in many countries.
While the outbreak disproportionally affects various groups, those who are already facing discrimination on a daily basis because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC), have been shown to be more marginalized by the countermeasures taken in this global health emergency. LGBTIQA youth and adolescents whose families or legal guardians are not supportive of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, are forced to stay at home. They are subjected to an increased risk of domestic violence, family violence, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, discrimination, bullying and other forms of violence and harassment during this period. That includes many young LGBTIQA people living in Asia, whose parents or legal guardians constantly attempt to change their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as shown in one of our reports.
We received reports all around Asia that lockdown has put many of our community members out of job, left them with no source of income to support themselves, and in some cases forced them to move in with their family. Close contact during this period may lead to disagreements and conflicts among family members over SOGIESC status of a member, especially when the LGBTIQA adolescent or youth has not yet openly disclosed their identity to the family or legal guardians, or that their SOGIESC status has not been accepted by their family members. Amidst this sudden crisis, there is a lack of online support available for youth in some sub-regions. Where it is available, there is the fear of exposing their identity in the absence of guaranteed privacy and confidentiality. These young people and adolescents have to live in such a toxic environment without the support to deal with it. Prolonged and constant exposure to physical, psychological, and verbal abuse, especially during one’s formative years, will leave long-term detrimental effects on physical and mental health.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services,” and Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child mentions that: “States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.”
In this critical time, we are calling for national governments and local authorities to take all necessary measures to monitor, prevent and address all forms of domestic violence and abuse against all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. This includes:
- Providing measures for LGBTIQA youth to report such acts perpetrated by their families.
- Installing a proper system of care and support for the child once rescued from abusive families.
- Providing basic necessities including food, alternative shelter, immediate healthcare, psychological support to LGBTIQA youth and children affected by Covid-19 and domestic abuse by families.
- Ensuring supportive, non-discriminatory, and confidential process of support and humanitarian aid.
- Instructing existing helplines and service providers that report domestic violence to pay attention to identify the nuances of family dynamics towards a LGBTIQA person and domestic violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics.
- Conducting appropriate remedies and redress for LGBTIQA youth and adolescents having been abused.
- Additionally, being mindful of the unique needs of each individual and the needs of marginalised sectors.
We are also calling for donors and funders to make available funding for emergency cases due to the Covid-19 outbreak, such as where a young or adolescent LGBTIQA individual has to find a temporary shelter during this period to avoid living in a hostile environment, or to seek food, medications, and other support services. Donors and funders should also work hand-in-hand with their partner organizations to develop joint solutions to address issues faced by LGBTIQA adolescents and youth during this pandemic.
We are calling for our fellow LGBTIQA organizations and communities to extend our heart and hands to those who most need the support during this crisis, especially LGTBIQA adolescents and youth who face, or are at risk of facing, domestic violence. We should be approachable, and be proactive in providing support and linkages to crucial services, while working with local authority to prevent and combat domestic violence. This is a difficult time for all of us, and we want to reemphasize the importance of solidarity and mutual support among LGBTIQA community and our allies.
To the LGBTIQA young people who are facing violence and abuse at home, we encourage you to reach out to LGBTIQA organizations and groups in your area, local support groups run by parents of LGBTIQA people and friendly mainstream social service providers. Our contact channels will remain open and responsive, and can be found under the list of undersigned organizations, throughout the outbreak should you need any advice. ILGA World has together put a list of resources for wellbeing of LGBTI communities during lockdown, while the Asia Pacific Transgender Network also collated a list of online counseling and support available to LGBTI communities.
We are all in this together.
 ILGA Asia & Faculty of Learning Sciences and Education, Thammasat University. (2019). Discussion Paper on Empowerment and Capacity Development for Parents of LGBTI Persons in Asia. Bangkok, Thailand: ILGA Asia.
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
 Convention on the Rights of the Child https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx
 COVID-19: Remote work and wellbeing resources for LGBTI communities https://ilga.org/list-resources-smartworking-wellbeing-lgbti-communities-covid19-coronavirus
 APTN Collated Resources for COVID-19 https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A1ZB8uFxk09Ew7PI67Bfb6KP0sbqNUD86MWUlpL1W4M/edit#gid=191065238
Undersigned organizations (with media contact):
- Asia Pacific Transgender Network (email@example.com)
- Blue Diamond Society
- Common Language
- Equal Asia Foundation
- ILGA Asia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- PFLAG Vietnam
- Lighthouse Social Enterprise Vietnam
- Sweekar The Rainbow Parents
- OutRight Action International (email@example.com)
- Youth Voices Count