Back in the closet: LGBTQ domestic abuse during COVID-19
With the spread of COVID-19, US colleges have switched to remote learning and sent home students. However, this raises the risk of LGBTQ domestic abuse for queer students who don’t consider home a safe place.
According to CBS News, the pandemic has highlighted the dangers of LGBTQ students and youth who are forced to stay at home without support and resources to help them.
LGBTQ domestic abuse: College edition
Colleges limiting people on campus to address the spread of COVID-19 means that thousands of LGBTQ college students are being sent home.
However, “home is not a safe place,” Chinyere Ezie, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told CBS News.
“With all of the closures that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fewer resources than ever for transgender and LGBT students and youth who are looking for support and for resources,” Ezie said.
She added that this is “really no laughing matter that people are being forced back into the closet, so to speak, just to be able to survive this pandemic.”
Moreover, while LGBTQ help and resources are already scarce in rural areas, this is highlighted even further during the pandemic.
In the report “Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America,” rural states reportedly have more discriminatory laws. They also don’t have as much transgender-inclusive protections.
LGBTQ domestic abuse leads to homelessness
Unfortunately, discrimination at home has led to greater homelessness for the LGBTQ community, especially for the youth and young adults.
This is because with the new stay-at-home restrictions, many LGBTQ youth are now confined in hostile environments with unsupportive family members or co-habitants.
With the lack of employment, income or savings, they have no choice but to stay with their families. This, in turn, can increase their exposure to violence even as it raises their anxiety and depression.
Already, the LGBT Foundation said there is a 30 percent rise of domestic abuse and violence calls with their helpline with the implementation of safety measures.
With the ongoing pandemic, LGBTQ homeless not only face increased rates of harassment and sexual assault, they’re more susceptible to COVID-19 because of the lack of available shelters, physical distancing, and safe hygiene.
Ezie said: “Every single demographic that was basically being impacted by structural inequality prior to this epidemic is feeling the brunt of this crisis to an exponential degree.”
Shared problem all over the world
As this is a worldwide pandemic, this means the issue of LGBTQ domestic abuse is being felt globally.
Ging Cristobal, Project Coordinator of Asia and Pacific Islands, said, “Home quarantine during the COVID-19 health crisis increases feelings of anxiety, fear, discomfort, confusion, and isolation. This can be overwhelming.”
“These feelings are heightened when one is forced to be in a confined space with family members who are unsupportive of our well-being because we identify as LGBTIQ,” Cristobal said.
“Gender based violence continues to be a major problem for the Caribbean LGBTIQ community,” pointed out Kennedy Carrillo, Regional Sexual and Development expert at OutRight.
“In times of crisis, access to services are even more restricted, while violence itself may increase due to long periods of time spent in confined spaces without an opportunity to leave,” Carrillo said.
Jean Chong, OutRight’s Field Coordinator based in Singapore, said: “If infected, many LGBTIQ persons are unwilling to seek out testing for fear of being outed or facing discriminatory or insensitive health care officials.”
“Likewise, there are shrinking community resources and services available to take care of LGBT victims of family violence because of COVID-19’s burden on public healthcare,” Chong said.