The LGBTQ+ Community Is Experiencing Harm and Homophobia in the COVID-19 Pandemic
This week, Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that will support the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. But it wasn’t passed unanimously. In fact, Republican representative Andy Biggs said he voted against the stimulus package in an early vote on March 14 because language in the bill was inclusive of domestic partners and LGBTQ+ families.
“They’ve redefined family for the first time in … a piece of federal legislation, to include committed relationships,” Biggs said on a radio program produced by the conservative Christian group Family Research Council. “The problem with that is it’s really hard to define a committed relationship, and it’s really hard to define anything related to that.”
According to research complied at Queer Voices Heard, 57 percent of the LGBTQ+ community think their lives will be worse off in the next six months because of the pandemic. According to a letter from the National LGBT Cancer Network, three main factors put the community at more risk than others, including that members of the LGBTQ+ community smoke at a 50 percent higher rate than the general population. COVID-19 causes respiratory problems, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported makes smokers particularly vulnerable. The LGBTQ+ community also has higher rates of HIV and cancer, meaning these people are immunocompromised. The letter adds that LGBTQ+ people already report discrimination from healthcare providers and might be reluctant to receive care for the virus even if they are experiencing severe symptoms.
Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, said in a statement to Supermajority News that they are not surprised that legislators are weaponizing the pandemic against the LGBTQ+ community.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, it is astounding to hear a member of Congress attack LGBTQ families and use it as justification to deny much-needed financial relief to all Americans,” Brinton said. “However, this is not surprising, as other extremist lawmakers in states like Idaho and Missouri are still pursuing anti-LGBTQ legislation despite the unprecedented, escalating public health crisis we face.”
Brinton added that according to a survey from the Trevor Project, 76 percent of LGBTQ+ youth already felt that the political climate affected their mental health or sense of self before the added stress of the pandemic. This means, Brinton said, that lawmakers should be especially careful about their actions and statements, given their effect on the wellbeing of the population they are dismissing. Brinton also said that self-isolating could only exacerbate ongoing anxieties that LGBTQ+ people feel surrounding their identities.
“It is so important to focus on mental health, set time aside for self-care, and to reach out for support,” Brinton added.
The TrevorLifeline is available at 1-866-488-7386 and chat/text services are at TheTrevorProject.org/Help.