The United Nations on Friday urged countries to protect LGBT+ people against discrimination when seeking health care during the pandemic, saying they may be hesitant to seek medical services, and be especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Members of the LGBT+ community with HIV or AIDS may have compromised immune systems, or a higher chance of being homeless than the wider population, making social distancing and safe hygiene difficult, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement.
“LGBTI people are among the most vulnerable and marginalized in many societies, and among those most at risk from COVID-19,” Bachelet said.
“We know that efforts to tackle the pandemic will only work if everyone’s rights to life and health are protected.”
LGBT+ people regularly face stigma and discrimination while seeking health services, which affects their access to quality care, the UN said.
And under medical systems strained by the coronavirus, “decisions about scaling back services should be medically based and data-driven and should not reflect bias against LGBTI people,” it said.
Efforts to halt the spread of the virus have forced the closing of many LGBT+ centres, which often provide health care.
Reported cases of the coronavirus have topped 2.18 million globally, and more than 147,000 people have died, according to a Reuters tally on Friday.
The UN also said nations must enact measures to protect LGBT+ people, who are vulnerable to domestic violence and abuse, and live in poverty during the pandemic.
-Matthew Lavietes – Thomson Reuters Foundation