What is the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTI migrants?

What is the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTI migrants?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) migrants may face intersecting discriminations: both as migrants as well as on the basis of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. It is important that measures are put in place to ensure that these populations have equal access to public health and safety services, and assistance to overcome the socio-economic impacts of the crisis. Here are some of the specific challenges that LGBTI migrants may have to overcome.

Difficulties in accessing healthcare services

In general, LGBTI people regularly face discrimination and stigma when accessing health services, starting with the criminalization of same-sex relationships in some countries and discrimination against trans people due to their gender identity. The existence of laws in some countries that criminalize same sex relationships or target trans people due to their gender identity exacerbates these situations. Some LGBTI people may avoid health services due to fear of arrest or violence. Some LGBTI migrants, particularly those with irregular status, may be less willing to access health care or provide information on their health status as they fear deportation, family separation or detention.

Finally, it is important to note that  for many LGBTI migrants from Central America and the Caribbean, returning to their countries of origin could mean facing a high risk of violence or discriminatory laws.

Stigmatization, discrimination, hate speech and attacks on the LGBTI community

During health crises, both LGBTI and migrant communities are likely to face stigma and discrimination as a result of being erroneously blamed for the pandemic. This doubles the vulnerability and risk of discrimination for LGBTI migrants. For example, in some countries  a measure was introduced that only allowed men and women to leave their homes on alternating days of the week and gave police the power to confirm a person’s gender based on their official documentation. This leaves transgender, intersex and non-binary migrants at risk of discrimination as they may not be able to change their gender on their identification, depending on the laws in their countries of origin.

Access to work and livelihood

Due to the various forms of social and economic discrimination faced by LGBTI migrants, they are more likely to work in the informal sector and lack access to paid sick leave or unemployment compensation. LGBTI migrants will not be eligible to apply for payments to reduce the negative socio-economic of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries where these policies only apply to nationals.

Vulnerability to violence and exploitation

Transgender and nonbinary migrants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to employment discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and/or nationality. Traffickers take advantage of this vulnerability and many actively seek out trans and nonbinary victims. Traffickers are also likely to exploit the uncertainty, mobility restrictions and increased internal displacement resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

What are some key actions that stakeholders can take?

States and other actors should consider the specific needs and vulnerabilities of LGBTI migrants and ensure their voices are heard when creating responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. Below are some recommendations:

  1. Understand that health is a universal right, which means that  LGBTI migrants should be able to access healthcare services, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or migration status and that they are not subjected to discrimination or fear negative consequences for seeking healthcare.
  2. Ensure that the LGBTI migrants are included in measures to reduce the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and that their specific vulnerabilities are addressed.
  3. Political leaders and other public figures should speak out against stigmatization and hate speech directed at both LGBTI persons and migrants during the pandemic.
  4. Shelters, support services and other measures to address gender-based violence and human trafficking during the COVID-19 pandemic should adopt an approach that is inclusive of LGBTI migrants.
  5. Border and law enforcement officials should be trained and instructed not to discriminate against LGBTI populations. Measures involving mobility restrictions should also provide protection for trans and non-binary individuals.

Addressing the negative impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTI migrants requires an intersectional approach and a strong commitment from key stakeholders to consider how new measures could have unintended consequences on this populations. For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic and the human rights on LGBTI individuals, consult this document from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


7 recommendations to promote the inclusion of migrants in host communities through social and cultural activities.

Categoria: Pacto Mundial sobre Migración
Autor: Carlos Escobar

The promotion of social and cultural activities as a mechanism to encourage interaction between migrants and host communities with the aim of advancing in the construction of more just and peaceful societies, is currently a topic of special interest in studies, policies and programs on migrant inclusion and social cohesion.

Taking Intergroup Contact Theory (IGCT) as a reference, different researches argue that the interaction of people from different places and contexts, under the right circumstances, favors trust and the change of xenophobic or discriminatory perceptions. Thus, intergovernmental agreements such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration have integrated this perspective into their theoretical and conceptual body. In particular, Goal 16 "Empower migrants and societies to achieve full inclusion and social cohesion", calls for the creation of community centres or programs at the local level to facilitate the participation of migrants in the receiving society by engaging migrants, community members, diaspora organizations, migrant associations and local authorities in intercultural dialogue, exchange of experiences, mentoring programs and the creation of business linkages that enhance integration outcomes and foster mutual respect.

Based on the analysis and review of different research, the IOM, in its publication The Power of Contact: Designing, Facilitating and Evaluating Social Mixing Activities to Strengthen Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Between Migrants and Local Communities – A Review of Lessons Learned, proposes a series of recommendations, based on empirical evidence, to encourage the participation of migrants and receiving communities in social and cultural activities.

1). Fun and goal-oriented

Designing and incorporating fun and exciting activities leads to a lighter and more welcoming environment for people to meet, interact and create social bonds. At the same time, setting common goals, which neither group can achieve without the participation of the other (cooperative interdependence), makes the activities more engaging and participatory.

2). Mutual appreciation

Participants should understand, recognize and appreciate culture, traditions and history as part of the process of bridging differences, maximizing each other's strengths and identifying commonalities. It is important that all individuals are able to identify how their contributions can have a positive impact on the achievement of common goals.

3). Shared ownership

Involving migrants and local communities in all phases of activities will increase their participation. This ownership empowers them, raises their self-esteem and opens up new opportunities for responsibility and commitment.

4). Guided Reflection

Dialogues and activities that allow for a certain degree of reflection help to create an atmosphere that is perceived as trusting, friendly and warm. Processing information and sharing personal and sensitive stories, which can evoke memories, are of utmost importance as long as they are carefully guided and accompanied by facilitators or project members.

5). Supervision and Trust Facilitation

Those responsible for group interactions, such as team leaders, facilitators, project staff or event planners, must play an active role in promoting equality within intergroup relations and creating an inclusive environment for all. This deliberate effort is crucial to overcome the natural tendency of participants to group themselves according to their most salient characteristics and status.

6). Sustained and regular intervention

It goes without saying that the more frequent, prolonged and intensive the participation, the better the attitude of each individual towards others. This means adopting an approach that rethinks the role of the people involved, who in turn will define the needs of their communities and ultimately take part in the design and organization of appropriate interventions.

7). Institutional support and partnership

The support of institutions such as local governments, media, government agencies and intermediary organizations is critical to promoting and facilitating constructive efforts to strengthen intergroup relations. The coordination of these institutions creates a system that can provide resources and incentives to promote and strengthen intergroup relations.

Social and cultural activities, understood as a programmatic intervention strategy to facilitate the inclusion of migrants in receiving communities, are important to the extent that they offer non-institutional spaces for interaction, where through spontaneous human contact, social ties are built based on experiences, stories, emotions and life trajectories of the participants. This facilitates the generation of trust between individuals, greater degrees of social cohesion and, of course, peaceful coexistence in communities, understood not only as the absence of conflict, but also as a positive, dynamic and participatory process in which dialogue is promoted and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, through the acceptance of differences, the ability to listen, recognize, respect and appreciate others. (UN, 2021).