Identity

Inequalities amplified for LGBTIQ+ community during the pandemic

Stock image of woman wearing a face mask and holding a rainbow flag. Source: Getty

A new report has revealed inequalities were dramatically magnified for LGBTIQ+ Australians during the COVID-19 crisis.

Respect Victoria has commissioned a new report which has revealed the discrimination and inequalities faced by LGBTIQ+ Australians were grossly inflated during the pandemic. 

The research was undertaken last June and September by Drummond Street’s Centre for Family Research and Evaluation in partnership with The Gender And Disaster Pod.

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LGBTIQ+ Australians felt increasingly isolated during the pandemic.
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It revealed young LGBTIQ+ and gender diverse Australians were particularly vulnerable, with some reporting having to move back into their family homes as a result of financial struggles. 

“What we heard from is that there's a lot of young people who've had to move home, as a result of the pandemic and job losses that they've experienced,” General Manager at CFRE Beth McCann​ said. 

“They've had to go ‘back into the closet’, having to hide their sexuality and have also been locked off from their networks of support, which can be really challenging,” Ms McCann told The Feed.

LGBTIQ+ people who come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds also reported heightened discrimination from their multiple intersecting identities, according to the report.

“There’s people from Middle Eastern backgrounds with an LGBT community already facing a stigma,” one participant commented.

“This was before the pandemic, and now it's adding another chunk, and for being bisexual, it's a third chunk, and you're living in a country with a lot of restrictions, who've got a lot of limitation for internationals.”

Loneliness exacerbated by the pandemic

Ms McCann​ said as a result of varying lockdowns, participants also reported extreme social isolation.

This was true for Queer woman, Ella, who lived alone in Melbourne at the height of the pandemic.

Ella has autism and ADHD and said the lockdowns in Victoria, sparked by the first and second waves of COVID-19, put her at severe risk.

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LGBTIQ+ people with disabilities or from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds felt an increase in discrimination and inequality
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“I rely on support workers to keep my house functional and to make sure I eat. Essentially to keep me alive,” she told The Feed.

“We identified fairly early on, probably in March, that it would be a serious risk to my health and probably to my survival if I had to spend a prolonged period alone,” she added.

 

Ella's friend ended up staying at her house once a week to provide her with essential care and support. However, she said she struggled with online therapy sessions, the influx of changing health advice and managing her disability.

“I am university educated and trying to keep up with what was being said [by the government] and what’s true and what’s not was extremely difficult for me and for a number of my disabled friends,” she said.

Family violence remains a concern 

As part of the report, researchers also interviewed LGBTIQ+ people who were at increased risk of family violence.

Respect Victoria CEO, Tracey Gaudry,  said family violence has increased as a result of impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We're very concerned about traditional constructs and stereotypes that discriminate and marginalise LGBTI people,” Ms Gaudry said.

“We also know that forms of phobia - homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia - drive home, in part, violence against LGBTIQ people,” she added.

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Family violence also impacts those in the LGBTIQ+ community.
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Ms Gaudry said family violence can occur in any relationship and it’s important for people to shut down discriminatory behaviours when they occur. 

“What might start off very small, it could be a discriminatory comment, a criticism of someone's status, it could be putting someone down, attitudes and behaviours, are all contributing to other forms of family violence,” she said.

“It could be as simple as saying to a friend, ‘hey, that comment was out of line, or simply standing up for someone who is experiencing those forms of discrimination,” she added.

“The sooner we all recognise there's a safe way for us to start to call out those behaviours, the sooner we're going to prevent more physical and enduring forms of family violence.”

If you or someone you know is at serious risk of immediate harm call Triple Zero (000).

If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. 

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). 

More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.