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Emergency fund rushes to get HIV drugs to people’s homes and keep LGBT+ safehouses going

Emergency fund rushes to get HIV drugs to people’s homes and keep LGBT+ safehouses going

Nairobi, Kenya.

An emergency fund is supporting LGBT+ safehouses and helping clinics get HIV drugs to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frontline AIDS has seen almost three times the normal number of organizations apply to its Rapid Response Fund because of the coronavirus crisis.

It has already enabled a clinic in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, to keep reaching HIV positive people during the country’s tough lockdown.

The clinic now has a motorcycle, driver and the right personal protective equipment so it can take HIV testing and treatment to people’s homes.

Meanwhile the fund is also helping safehouses in Kenya.

In many cases, safehouses are the only way LGBT+ people who are estranged from their families can comply with strict lockdown measures and avoid jail.

The fund is giving the safehouses fund to provide food and essentials. It is also helping provide more safe accommodation to reduce overcrowding in the shelters.

Kenya has a large number of LGBT+ asylum seekers who currently face homelessness or dangerous and overcrowded refugee camps. On 13 April one LGBT+ refugee hanged himself outside the UN’s refugee agency in Nairobi after failing to get help.

Police and authorities are extra threat

Frontline AIDS’ emergency fund targets projects in Africa and the Caribbean. But the coalition of organizations behind it is also worried about the plight of LGBT+ people around the world.

Christine Stegling is executive director at Frontline AIDS. She said: 

‘Like HIV and AIDS, COVID-19 has a greater impact on people who are already marginalised.

‘In many countries, LGBT people are facing a double threat; the pandemic itself and an increase in discrimination and attacks by the authorities.

‘With the need growing, we want to make sure the Rapid Response Fund can keep pace. We’ve launched an urgent appeal for donations to try and increase the support the fund can offer.’

Some of these threats come at a national level. In Hungary the government is abusing emergency coronavirus powers to stop trans people changing their legal gender.

Meanwhile Poland is debating a ‘Stop Pedophilia’ law which falsely links gay people to pedophiles and could end all sex education in schools.

But local officials are also abusing their powers during the crisis.

In Uganda, officials raided an LGBT+ shelter and arrested 23 young people on trumped up COVID-19 charges.

And in Panama police have turned on trans people who easily fall foul of its gender-based quarantine rules where only men are allowed out on some days and women on others.

Meanwhile local officials forced LGBT+ people to dance and kiss to humiliate them after finding them breaching the coronavirus curfew in the Philippines.

Indeed, the situation is so bad the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has ordered governments not to abuse the crisis to attack LGBT+ people.

Helping people avoid police

The fund is currently processing applications from organizations supporting the LGBT+ community.

Frontline AIDS will help HIV positive people get treatment during the lockdowns and curfews. Meanwhile it will also help protect LGBT+ people in danger.

For example, the fund is helping a trans-run organisation in the Caribbean to move to home delivery of HIV treatments. It’s paying for PPE and transport costs. This will reduce the chance of service users falling foul of the police during lockdown. 

 And it’s currently looking at similar applications from South Africa. Meanwhile an LGBT+ safehouse in Cameroon has also applied for emergency funding.