Global Trends in LGBT Rights During the Covid-19 Pandemic

It’s impossible to evaluate what the year 2020 looked like from the perspective of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights without recognizing how Covid-19 put a spanner in the works and made for an especially tumultuous year, including for LGBT people. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed fault lines of inequality, leaving some more vulnerable than others regarding infection, prognosis, and economic impact – including within LGBT communities. In countries where LGBT people face social stigma, moral opprobrium and legal discrimination, they have fewer economic opportunities, and more likely to be poor, particularly in contexts where some LGBT people were left out of government’s economic recovery measures. While struggling with the fallout of Covid-19, LGBT people also contended with an onslaught of run-of-the-mill homophobia and transphobia, wielded by governments, politicians and ordinary members of the public. Anti-LGBT bias was directly evident in responses to Covid-19 in all regions of the world. In Uganda police detained some 20 LGBT homeless youth on spurious charges of breaking Covid-19 restrictions and tortured them in prison. In the Philippines, village officials humiliated LGBT people while enforcing curfew. In South Korea, social media users scapegoated LGBT people after some media linked an outbreak to gay clubs. In Panama, police and private security officials discriminated against transgender people while enforcing a gender-based quarantine. Hungary’s populist leader Viktor Orbán used Covid-19 emergency powers to rush through discriminatory legislation against transgender people.