Western Balkans LGBTI Organization Outlines Specific Dangers COVID-19 Poses to Community

The LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey released an open letter to donors yesterday, outlining the specific repercussions the COVID-19 pandemic is bound to bring about for LGBTI communities in those areas.

As a result of lockdowns and social-distancing practices, ERA has suspended advocacy, awareness, and visibility activities indefinitely. Pride gatherings will also be cancelled.

Members of the LGBTI community in the Western Balkans or Turkey are likely to be disproportionately vulnerable to the pandemic as they experience homelessness, poverty, and participation in the sex trade at higher rates. Immunocompromised people living with HIV/AIDS are also especially at risk from coronavirus.

Social isolation will also negatively impact those already suffering from mental illnesses and trauma, as well as those stuck in abusive home situations. 

LGBTI people will also be more likely to face obstacles in accessing healthcare, due to discrimination and stigma. Experiencing discrimination from health services may, in turn, lead to LGBTI people being reluctant to seek medical help again.

ERA urged donors to contact LGBTI organizations and inquire about their immediate needs, in order to maximize efficiency and properly address the short term needs of local organizations at such a time of crisis. To that purpose, it also advised budget flexibility and simplifying reporting and application procedures so that the time and human effort dedicated to helping those in need can be maximized.

LGBTI+ organizations and groups in the Western Balkans and Turkey were encouraged to contact ERA if they needed help with:

  • reaching out to donors;
  • raising emergency funds (such as through crowd funding);
  • solidarity actions and network activities;
  • sharing resources and updates;
  • providing webinars, online trainings and other capacity building activities;
  • planning and implementing project activities online and providing remote counseling etc; 
  • reporting human rights violations of LGBTI persons to international organisations such as the UN, EU and others.
  • any other way that you might need our help;