Whilst life changed for every one when the Coronavirus crisis was triggered in Spring 2020 its impact and more specifically the measures Government introduced to control the spread of the virus affected LGBT+ people and their communities in several unique ways.
LGBT+ people already face a wide range of inequalities throughout their lives. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that they are disproportionately affected by the crisis but the ways in which they have been disadvantaged has to a large extent remained hidden from public view.
LGBT+ History Month gives us a much needed opportunity to highlight the unequal impact of the pandemic on LGBT+ people’s lives.
5 facts about the way in which the coronavirus crisis has affected LGBT+ people
1. Stay at home restrictions
Only half of lesbian, gay and bi people (46%) and trans people (47%) feel able to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity to everyone in their family.
LGBT+ people are more likely to have a 'chosen family'. This describes those who view their close friends as their family, often due to being unsupported or rejected by their family.
People are often less likely to live with their chosen family compared to their biological family meaning that throughout the pandemic they are and continue to be separated from those closest to them. Some LGBT+ people, particularly young people, may be stuck in households that are hostile to their identity. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.
2. Access to support
Many LGBT+ people rely on LGBT+ communities and spaces for vital support, understanding and friendship. For many LGBT+ people having to rely on support from others outside of their communities can cause anxiety as those providing support may be unaccepting of LGBT+ identities.
This is particularly concerning for older LGBT+ people who have grown up in a world hostile to their identities. This can and does prevent a significant number of LGBT+ people from accessing the support they need and are entitled to.
3. Mental health
The Pandemic is having a profound impact on many people's mental health and wellbeing, with the World Health Organisation warning that this impact is likely to be far reaching and long lasting.
LGBT+ people may be particularly affected, as they are more likely to experience poor mental health than the general population because of their experience of stigma, prejudice and discrimination.
The pandemic has closed down almost all LGBT+ specific spaces and events, some permanently as many charities and support services don’t have access to Government funding. The inability to be able to socialise with other LGBT+ people in their communities increases isolation and has made many LGBT+ feel that their LGBT+ identity is becoming invisible.
The reality is that, at the moment, we don’t fully understand the impact of the pandemic on LGBT+ communities, and we won’t know until better and more consistent data is collected. Data collection on LGBT+ lives through national surveys has been poor over recent years, and data on transgender people almost entirely absent.
That is why Usdaw’s motion to this year’s TUC LGBT+ Conference is calling for Government to include sexual orientation and trans status monitoring in the national census.
5. Health services
Many LGB, and particularly trans people’s specific healthcare needs have fallen by the wayside during the crisis. Trans people’s access to gender identity clinics, hormones and surgery have been significantly restricted and waiting lists for transition-related healthcare, already too long, have become even longer.
In May 2020, LGBT+ Foundation published findings from the largest and most substantive research into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on LGBT+ communities in the United Kingdom to date. Their report ‘Hidden Figures
’ can be read here.