Juliana Cano Nieto
In recent days, Baja California and Sinaloa joined the list of states in Mexico to guarantee the right to same-sex marriage. Within the space of a few days, three LGBTIQ+ people were killed in Guatemala including Andrea González and Cecy Ixpatá, both well known Trans activists.
This dichotomy between important advances in respect for the rights of LGBTIQ+ people and the violence and discrimination that we still experience as a community means the celebration of Pride Month in Latin America has a bittersweet taste. As does what the future holds for LGBTIQ+ people in context of COVID-19. The pandemic has had an impact all around the world, but not everyone has been equally affected. Our community, already historically excluded, will continue to experience discrimination if we do not set our sights on a recovery that includes us and guarantees our rights.
LGBTIQ+ people face many problems arising from the response to COVID-19. The quarantine measures led to an increase in gender-based violence within families and further limited access to protection and justice. In some countries, the implementation of these restrictive measures by the security forces led to increased violence on the streets. The closure of borders meant LGBTIQ+ people on the move faced increased risks. Many people who already depended on work in the informal sector lost their only source of income. And in some countries, access to health services for LGBTIQ+ people was even more unequal. Sexual and reproductive health services, and essential treatments such as hormone and antiretroviral therapy were suspended, while in other cases promised aid failed to materialize.
Being strong and moving towards sustainability begins by guaranteeing diversity, equality and economic development that promotes the inclusion of ALL people
Nevertheless, our community showed courage and moved forward, even without government support. Activists, organizations and groups throughout the region organized or created their own initiatives collecting funds, offering economic and psycho-emotional support to people in the community with COVID-19, providing direct assistance on a small and large scale to key groups within our diverse communities: transgender people, migrants, sex workers and people in prison, among others.
But these initiatives are overstretched, they are not enough. States are beginning to plan recovery measures. This is a unique opportunity. As the World Bank said on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the pandemic has demonstrated that “we have to build back into stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive societies.” Being strong and moving towards sustainability begins by guaranteeing diversity, equality and economic development that promotes the inclusion of ALL people.
LGBTIQ+ people contribute to society in the most diverse ways, there are millions of us and only by including us will we rebuild a humanity that can overcome the aftermath of the pandemic.
Juliana Cano Nieto is Amnesty International’s deputy director of campaigns for the Americas