Kashmir: LGBT+ demand health care access during COVID pandemic

Kashmir’s LGBT+ community members are calling for the right to access health care and COVID-19 vaccines. They are also urging the government to set up support schemes as the pandemic takes a toll on their lives. In the congested Basant Bagh locality in India-administered Kashmir’s Srinagar city, Shabnum Subhan, 45, who identifies herself as a transwoman, received a call from a friend in May 2020. The friend told her she was feeling sick. At the time, the region was struggling with the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. When Subhan reached her friend’s rental room, she found her struggling even to stand up. Subhan managed to call an ambulance through an activist and accompanied her friend to the hospital. Her friend suffered chills and pain in her arm and back. Subhan feared her friend might be COVID-19 positive, but when people enquired, she was quick and cautious to hide any suspicion of the illness, fearing stigmatization.