International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2020

Message from Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This year’s theme is Breaking the Silence.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to face high levels of violence and inequalities. Punitive laws continue to penalize their behaviors, identities and gender expressions, perpetuating discrimination and exclusion.

The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the challenges they already face. COVID-19 affects everyone, everywhere. But those most marginalized feel it more.

LGBTI are being singled out, blamed for the virus, abused and incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some LGBTI, isolation can be particularly challenging, even dangerous, as they can experience elevated risk of domestic and family violence.

Isolation can also exacerbate pre-existing mental health challenges including loneliness, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

Stay at home orders compound the difficulties LGBTI already experience in accessing antiretroviral therapy, HIV prevention and gender-affirming services, including hormone therapies.

But, despite these challenges, across Asia and the Pacific LGBTI organizations and individuals are showing us stories of courage, solidarity and resilience, as they are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response providing support to the communities and catering for the needs of the most vulnerable.

LGBTI organizations and individuals are empowering people living with HIV, key populations and vulnerable populations with knowledge to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and integrating HIV and COVID-19 response by ensuring continuity of HIV prevention and treatment.

These unprecedented times can be the moment the world pushes back against fear and isolationism, and turns instead towards hope, unity and solidarity.

As we observe the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, I call on everyone to join the movement for social justice, equality and equity so that all people can live with respect and dignity. Let’s break the silence by giving voice and visibility to lived realities of solidarity, compassion, and kindness.

We must stand together to protect and promote the human rights of LGBTI. Together we are stronger.

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