As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, thousands of individuals and communities have been affected by the virus. The LGBTQ+ community, to be specific, has been significantly affected by the virus as many gay pride proceedings were shut down worldwide.
The LGBTQ+ businesses and organizations are affected by the pandemic and its economic impact at an alarming rate. Many of these organizations have been permanently closed, while others require fundraising to stay in business.
On the other hand, members of the LGBTQ+ community are employed by organizations that the pandemic has negatively hit. Also, many LGBTQ+ individuals already have existing health issues such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, cancer, or even blood pressure, giving them slight chances of survival when they become COVID-19 victims.
Here we look at the effects of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community – both economic and social.
COVID-19 Economic Effect on LGBTQ+ Members
- As with other people, LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced reduced working hours, affecting their financial wellbeing. Moreover, these individuals also find themselves working in highly affected industries and places hardly hit by the crisis, thus increasing the risk of infection.
- Most LGBTQ+ community members don’t have health insurance. As a result, most of them avoid seeking treatment because of financial barriers, discrimination, stigma, and biases.
- The virus effect has increased the rate of drug abuse and depression rates among LGBTQ+ members, resulting in chronic illnesses that significantly elevate complications upon infection.
- LGBTQ+ members have also been forced to reduce their spending habits and change their household budgets because of the reduced finances at their disposal.
- Many of the LGBTQ+ are unable to pay their bills as many lost their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The lockdowns and closings aimed to slow down the spread of the virus have affected the LGTBQ+ community as they are forced to stay at home with no income, making them prone to stress and depression.
COVID-19 Effect on LGBTQ+
- The pandemic has increased the risks of losing good relationships in clubs, schools, and community initiatives where LGTBQ+ members are supported and affirmed.
- There is increased LGBTQ+ youth homelessness due to family conflicts and extreme poverty levels brought about by the pandemic.
- Many LGBTQ+ youths have been forced to drop out of schools due to lack of finances, mental illnesses, or even death brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- LGBTQ+ have been forced into heavy debts to cater to their families’ needs and pay their daily bills.
- LGBTQ+ members who are lucky to find jobs are overworked in highly affected areas by the virus without an increase in their salary, leading to stress and depression
- In some countries, the LGBTQ+ communities are not incorporated in the government measures of economic recovery after the pandemic. This gives them minimal chances of economic opportunities, forcing them to extreme poverty levels.
COVID-19 Social Effect on LGBTQ+ Community
The pandemic has had great social and psychological effects on the LGBTQ+ population, including:
- The psychological impact of the virus has affected the well-being of the LGBTQ+ groups, making them victims of depression, traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or any other distress.
- The rules implemented, such as social distance and security measures, have significantly affected the social relations towards the LGBTQ+ community, making them feel discriminated against. Others take that chance to abuse and criticize LGBTQ+ individuals, which is very frustrating.
- The restrictions and lockdown implemented to curb the virus have affected these individuals as the good relationships between LGBTQ+ patients, and their therapists are compromised, making treatment of psychological patients nearly impossible. Many have succumbed due to a lack of treatment.
- The pandemic has also exposed LGBTQ+ members to a lack of freedom because of restrictions brought about by the disease and separation from people they love. As a result, some are leaving with feelings of helplessness, thus increasing the rates of suicide.
Other COVID-19 Effects
- The pandemic has affected the quality of life, leading to decreased productivity among LGBTQ+ people.
- There are risks of increased domestic violence, increased anxiety, and social isolation among LGBTQ+ individuals during the pandemic.
- Many LGBTQ+ youths are confined in unsupportive families and homes because of social distancing measures, increasing chances of rejection and discrimination from their families.
- The pandemic has increased poverty levels, preventing LGBTQ+ youths from accessing essential connections, mental health services, and social support. As a result, the youth engage in suicidal behavior, self-harm, and even substance abuse.
- There is increased sexual abuse among the LGBTQ+ community members during this pandemic, but the victims are afraid to come out because of discrimination and stigma.
- There is an increased gap of inequality between the LGBTQ+ community and heterosexual individuals as some are more vulnerable to infection and economic burden, which is visible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Measures to Reduce the COVID-19 Impact on the LGBTQ+
Governments should adopt measures that bring equality to all individuals irrespective of their sexual status. The government should also criticize leaders or individuals that use the COVID-19 pandemic to prosecute or target people based on their gender identity. The state should ensure it protects LGBTQ+ persons from any form of discrimination or violence.
State agencies should initiate awareness campaigns to help build networks, reporting, and monitoring opportunities for the LGBTQ+ communities. Besides, they should undertake initiatives to cater to the pandemic’s consequences to the LGBTQ+ communities by providing essential goods for those severely affected.
Governments should also create employment opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals to help them ease the economic burden.
Treatment for psychological patients and mental disorders should be made available for these individuals. Online therapy sessions should be encouraged to reduce movement and the cost incurred.
Governments should ensure that the vaccine is available to the LGBTQ+ communities in the affected areas. According to the available data, many LGBTQ+ individuals have not been vaccinated.
LGBTQ+ individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS or individuals that smoke or those who are 60 years and above should take special and additional precautions to reduce chances of infection
Everyone, including health workers and community leaders, should make sure they help LGBTQ+ communities reduce the burden of depression or any other form of mental disorder.