Leading Global Jewish Human Rights Organization Calls for Solidarity with LGBTQI+ People During Pandemic

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) calls on all countries to respect human rights of vulnerable communities scapegoated for COVID-19

On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service, issued this statement:

“As the world marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, we stand in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people everywhere in their fight for justice and equality. In too many countries, people are criminalized for being LGBTQI+; in many others, people face barriers to employment, housing, education and healthcare simply because of who they are or whom they love.

Tragically, we have already seen that the global COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates these challenges. LGBTQI+ people experience higher rates of many of the underlying health conditions that increase the risks associated with COVID-19. Members of LGBTQI+ communities worldwide must receive the essential healthcare services that are becoming more difficult to access during this health and economic crisis – including HIV treatment and prevention, sexual and reproductive healthcare, and hormone replacement therapy.

Lockdowns across the world have harmed the informal economy, where many LGBTQI+ and other vulnerable people earn their incomes, putting many on the brink of poverty. Because of this economic crisis, many in the LGBTQI+ community have been forced to return to homes with hostile family members, increasing rates of gender-based violence, including violence informed by anti LGBTQI+ prejudice.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is quickly responding to our grantee-partners’ requests around the world to support these communities during the pandemic to ensure that these vulnerable people have food, housing, information, and other human rights amidst this global crisis.

We are deeply disturbed by increasing rates of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community as authoritarian countries seek to use COVID-19 to repress vulnerable people and violate their human rights. We steadfastly oppose these actions, such as the arrests of 19 LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda, along with rhetoric scapegoating LGBTQI+ communities and sex workers for the spread of the virus.

As a faith-based organization that recognizes the inherent dignity of all people, during this pandemic we call on the United States and other governments to protect and meet the needs of LGBTQI+ people and other vulnerable groups – including women, girls, and sex workers. As the novel coronavirus spreads, governments need to provide all assistance without discrimination.

By reaffirming our commitment to advancing LGBTQI+ rights in every country, we can help end discrimination, hatred, and violence to build a more just world.”

About the human rights work of American Jewish World Service (AJWS)  

AJWS funds LGBTQI+ human rights groups in 19 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and mobilizes the American Jewish community to advocate for U.S. policies that support human rights abroad. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all.

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