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LGBT+ groups ask UN to fight homophobes using coronavirus to spread hate and violence

LGBT+ groups ask UN to fight homophobes using coronavirus to spread hate and violence

  • Organizations from Iran, Lebanon, South Korea, Philippines and Sri Lanka warn the UN that extremists are scapegoating LGBT+ people for COVID-19.
Seoul Queer Pride Parade in South Korea, 2019.

LGBT+ organizations from Iran, Lebanon, South Korea, Philippines and Sri Lanka have called on the UN to ‘counter Covid-19 related hate speech and violence against LGBTI community’.

Their call comes as a report out yesterday indicated LGBT+ people around the world are facing a humanitarian crisis because of the pandemic.

The groups have written to the UN officials responsible for LGBT+ and other human rights.

Iranian LGBT+ organization 6Rang organized the letter. In it, they cited the example of a scholar from the Islamic Azad University who blamed coronavirus on homosexuality.

Abdul Majid Talibatash, director of the Quran Research Institute, said ‘sins such as homosexuality instead of marriage’ had become common. And he said ‘COVID-19 was a warning to modern man to refrain from modern and unprecedented sins.’

Abdul Majid Talibatash
Abdul Majid Talibatash blames coronavirus on sins including homosexuality. Islamic Azad University

The LGBT+ organizations’ letter says: 

‘The LGBTI community around the world is often blamed for most of the world’s problems, from hurricanes and floods to financial crises.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has been no exception. In many countries around the world, homophobic and anti-LGBTI groups and politicians use different forms of rhetoric to blame this community for what is a natural and human-made disaster.

‘Political and religious leaders in many countries including Iran, Turkey, United States, Israel and Ukraine are spreading misinformation about Covid-19 that incites violence and discrimination against LGBTI people.

‘As noted by the World Health Organization, this form of disinformation only fuels the existing stigma and discrimination. This is exactly what has been happening for the LGBTI community in many countries.’

Blaming LGBT+ people for coronavirus, while helping it to spread

The letter also cites the case of the Iraqi political leader and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said same-sex marriage equality caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time he encouraged his supporters to ignore social distancing and gather in a mosque. Once there, they defiantly chanted ‘coronavirus has terrified you’.

Likewise, other religious leaders have also damaged practical efforts to tackle the virus, while at the same time blaming it on LGBT+ people.

One US TV evangelist said only people with ‘fake faith’ wash their hands.

Meanwhile Franklin Graham, one of Donald Trump’s favorite preachers, set up a coronavirus hospital in New York’s Central Park. But he insisted all staff opposed same-sex marriage before they could work there.

Homophobia harms efforts to tackle COVID-19

The letter also warns that homophobia can harm efforts to tackle the virus.

In South Korea, a new outbreak of coronavirus happened among people who had visited a popular LGBT+ neighborhood.

Many people feared coming forward to testing because they are not out about being LGBT+. The letter said this ‘could cause loss of jobs and social and family status’.

Meanwhile In Uganda, officials raided an LGBT+ shelter and arrested 23 young people on trumped up COVID-19 charges. Prosecutors have only now dropped charges, with 19 of the youths due to leave jail today after 50 days.

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.

The UN has already expressed concern about the situation. Last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ordered governments not to abuse the crisis to attack LGBT+ people.

‘Violence must not be overlooked’

6Rang signed the letter to the UN alongside MOSAIC (Mena Organization for Services Advocacy Integration and Capacity building) in Lebanon; the Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center in South Korea; the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines; and the Diversity and Solidarity Trust in Sri Lanka.

It concludes: ‘Blaming the LGBTI for coronavirus must stop and violence against this community must not be overlooked, especially in this time of crisis.’