Jason Mills

4

LGBT+ displaced persons and the global pandemic

Imagine having to be on the run from your family and having nowhere safe to run.

No place to hide, and no reprieve from the fear of violence, persecution, public shaming, and even the fear of losing your life, simply because of who you are. Imagine seeking salvation from violence through the local police or protective services, only to find them to be firmly on the side of your oppressors, further ensuring the only place to live is on the extreme margins of society.

And imagine this is your reality, simply for being who you are.

This is the situation countless members of the LGBT+ community face while trying to survive in some of the 72 countries around the world that still criminalize same-sex intimacy and/or sexual identity.

These are not far away lands or countries on the other side of the world. Take Jamaica, for example. This is a country in the Western hemisphere that still criminalizes and marginalizes homosexuality. Members of the LGBT+ community still face sexual and physical violence and imprisonment in Jamaica. Reports of mob attacks against individuals, simply for being gay, are not uncommon.

Even today, such laws persist in places like St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados. They allow for up to 10 years in prison for “buggery” and “indecency.” Our neck of the woods still has a lot of work to do.

More than ever, effects of people not being able to flee persecution due to the pandemic have come to the forefront.

Recently, one of our main community partners in Toronto, Rainbow Railroad has highlighted the effects that COVID-19 on those fleeing violence around the world, as well as new challenges they face with lockdowns and border closings.

Many repressive state authorities in some of these 72 countries are using this time during the pandemic to target LGBT+ folks seeking out an dignified existence. Many are already forced into camps or the sex trade once they flee their homes and cities. They find it ever harder to escape.

COVID-19 has enabled new forms of repression by some local authorities forcing LGBT+ folks into especially egregious circumstances.

UGANDA: “Under the guise of lockdown restrictions, authorities raided an LGBTQI shelter and arrested 23 people on March 29. We know for certain they were arrested under false pretenses, and they are still being detained.” – Rainbow Railroad

A recent report by ABC News highlighted the detaining of LGBT+ individuals during the pandemic.

As Rainbow Road highlights, there is a network of organizations and people around the world providing these reports and acting to assist in the efforts of finding salvation.

Rainbow Foundation of Hope remains committed to fundraising, bringing awareness to these issues, and supporting organizations that assist LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

To donate, please visit us here.

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