COVID-19: impacts for LGBTIQ communities and implications for services. A Research Briefing Paper by Rainbow Health Victoria

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This briefing paper is relevant for humanitarian practitioners, particularly those working in the provision of health and community services, during the COVID-19 pandemic as it clearly outlines the particular vulnerabilities faced by the LGBTIQ population that may be exacerbated by the pandemic.

This briefing paper examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the LGBTIQ community. The paper looks at the vulnerabilities faced by the LGBTIQ community in the following areas: physical and mental health, family violence, harassment and violence, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and economic disadvantage.

The briefing paper outlines the underlying health conditions that are more prevalent in the LGBTIQ community that may increase their vulnerability to COVID-19. It further highlights that the real physical health impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTIQ community will be unclear in the short term due to a lack of data collection on LGBTIQ identities. The paper then highlights how the greater prevalence of anxiety and depression among the LGBTIQ community may be heightened during the pandemic as a result of the loss of community connection via face to face interaction and support. Similarly, the reduced access to in-person support services is considered concerning due to the rates of intimate partner violence and violence from one’s family of origin within the LGBTIQ community. Violence and harassment from the general public and police through the enforcement of social distancing are also noted as potentially distressing challenges for the LGBTIQ community during the pandemic. The lack of available community support services is also expected to impact the rates of alcohol and illicit drug use, homelessness and economic disadvantage which, prior to the pandemic, were more prevalent in the LGBTIQ community than the general community.

The briefing paper acknowledges the under-utilisation of health services particularly among trans and gender diverse young people due to a lack of inclusive services. Moreover, the intersectional challenges faced by LGBTIQ individuals who may also experience other vulnerabilities such as disability is outlined as a particular challenge for service providers to be aware of during the pandemic. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for health and community service providers to follow to address the vulnerabilities faced by the LGBTIQ community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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There is an urgent need to secure and enhance LGBTIQ community-controlled health and community services to meet heightened needs. The role of these trusted and skilled services in the context of COVID-19 is more important than ever.

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This briefing paper examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the LGBTIQ community. The paper looks at the vulnerabilities faced by the LGBTIQ community in the following areas: physical and mental health, family violence, harassment and violence, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and economic disadvantage.

The briefing paper outlines the underlying health conditions that are more prevalent in the LGBTIQ community that may increase their vulnerability to COVID-19. It further highlights that the real physical health impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTIQ community will be unclear in the short term due to a lack of data collection on LGBTIQ identities. The paper then highlights how the greater prevalence of anxiety and depression among the LGBTIQ community may be heightened during the pandemic as a result of the loss of community connection via face to face interaction and support. Similarly, the reduced access to in-person support services is considered concerning due to the rates of intimate partner violence and violence from one’s family of origin within the LGBTIQ community. Violence and harassment from the general public and police through the enforcement of social distancing are also noted as potentially distressing challenges for the LGBTIQ community during the pandemic. The lack of available community support services is also expected to impact the rates of alcohol and illicit drug use, homelessness and economic disadvantage which, prior to the pandemic, were more prevalent in the LGBTIQ community than the general community.

The briefing paper acknowledges the under-utilisation of health services particularly among trans and gender diverse young people due to a lack of inclusive services. Moreover, the intersectional challenges faced by LGBTIQ individuals who may also experience other vulnerabilities such as disability is outlined as a particular challenge for service providers to be aware of during the pandemic. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for health and community service providers to follow to address the vulnerabilities faced by the LGBTIQ community during the COVID-19 pandemic.