LGBTQ Online Forum: COVID-19 & Our Communities

ACON, April 2020

When: Monday 6 April 2020, 3pm-4.30pm (Virtual Event via Zoom)

ACON will be hosting a live online information session to explore coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on sexuality and gender diverse communities on Monday 6 April 3pm – 4.30pm.

The forum will include experts from community, public health and medicine, who will talk through issues, answer questions and provide better clarity, so that we can work together to confront this crisis.

Guest speakers:
– Professor Andrew Grulich, Professor HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program, The Kirby Institute, UNSW
– Jane Costello, CEO, Positive Life NSW
– Dr Justin Koonin, President, ACON
– Dr Brad McKay, General Practitioner

More speakers to be announced

Facilitated by: Maeve Marsden, Writer, Performer, Producer and Director

Thorne Harbour Health calls for community to stop having casual sex during COVID-19

Thorne Harbour Health – media release, 26 March 2020

For the first time in its four-decade history, Thorne Harbour Health is calling on communities to stop having casual sex in the face of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thorne Harbour Health, formerly the Victorian AIDS Council, is calling on LGBTI communities and people living with HIV to limit their risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said, “We’re faced by an unprecedented global health crisis. While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, the close personal contact we have when during sex poses a serious risk of COVID-19 transmission. We need people to stop having casual sex at this stage.”

“But after four decades of sexual health promotion, we know abstinence isn’t a realistic strategy for most people. We need to look at ways we can minimise risk while maintain a healthy sex life.”

Last week, the organisation released an info sheet with strategies to minimise the risk of COVID-19 while having sex. Strategies included utilising sex tech, solo sexuality, and limiting your sexual activity to an exclusive sexual partner, commonly known as a ‘f*ck buddy’.

“You can reduce your risk by making your sexual network smaller. If you have a regular sexual partner, have a conversation about the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Provided both of you are limiting your risk by working from home and exercising physical distancing from others, you can greatly reduce you chance of COVID-19 transmission,” said Simon Ruth.

The organisation’s stance is not dissimilar from advice from the UK government. Earlier this week, chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries advised couples not cohabitating to consider testing their relationship by moving in together during the country’s lockdown.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth released a video message today addressing sex & COVID-19 following last week’s message about physical distancing.

TREATY BODIES: FIVE YEARS OF RESEARCH SHOW INTERNATIONAL LAW INCREASINGLY PROTECTS LGBTI PERSONS’ RIGHTS

ASIA PACIFIC ALLIANCE FOR SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS (APA),  2020

The United Nations Treaty Bodies are an authoritative source of international law, and have steadily contributed to protecting the human rights of LGBTI persons. A review of their activities in 2017 and 2018, released by ILGA World, shows that references to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) made by the committees have hit an all-time high.

The report on  United Nations Treaty Bodies: References to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex characteristics’ is a comprehensive annual compilation and analysis of all the SOGIESC references made by nine UN Treaty Bodies (CESCR, HRCtee, CEDAW, CRC, CAT, CRPD, CERD, CMW and CED) in 2018, produced by ILGA.
It investigates the Treaty Bodies’ General Comments (interpretations of the international human rights treaties), Individual Communications (complaints brought by individuals or organisations), Lists of Issues (issues and questions sent to the States parties before the main review) and Concluding Observations (country-specific concerns and recommendations).

In 2018, Treaty Bodies made a record high of 138 SOGIESC references and recommendations. This is more than 2.5 times growth from 2014, and active participation of CS groups was one of the important factors contributing to this.  

How did Asia Pacific countries fare?   Here’s all the AP countries under review in 2018, by treaty. 

Highlighted countries received recommendations on LGBTI and/or had civil society reports that mentioned LGBTI :

·         2018 Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights :  Bangladesh, New Zealand (read more on p22)

·         2018 Human Right Committee (ICCPR) : Lao 

·         2018 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women:  Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Lao, Malaysia, Nepal , New Zealand, R of Korea, Samoa  (read more on p. 44)

·         2018 Committee on the Rights of the Child:  Lao, Marshall Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka (read more on p 57)

·         2018 Committee Against Torture:  [Canada*], Maldives, Russia,  Viet Nam, (read more on p 64)

·         2018 Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Nepal, Philippines, Russia (read more on p 73)

·         2018 Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: China, Iraq, Japan, Nepal, R of Korea  (read more on p 80)

·         2018 Committee on Migrant Workers:

·         2018 Committee on Enforced Disappearances:  Japan (read more on p 90)

NOTE: Central Asia was not included in the above listing. Canada was included as there is a member organisation there.

 

New resource: LGBTI R U OK? Conversation Guide

National LGBTI Health Alliance and R U OK?,  February 2020

“Life can be challenging, and we all need support during times of grief, loss, relationship breakdown and when we’re under work or financial pressure. On top of this, LGBTI people might be subject to prejudice, stigma, discrimination, harassment, and violence.” 

National LGBTI Health Alliance has collaborated with R U OK? to produce this LGBTI guide which was released just in time for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Snapshot of mental health and suicide prevention statistics for LGBTI people

The National LGBTI Health Alliance (The Alliance), February 2020

Although many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians live healthy and happy lives, research has demonstrated that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers.

These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTI. This document aims to provide a snapshot of what is known of the current mental health and wellbeing outcomes of LGBTI people in Australia.

Call for allies to step up with LGBTQ distress ‘worse than after postal survey’

Sydney Morning Herald, February 23, 2020

Four out of five LGBTQ+ people say they feel worse now than they did after the “yes” vote on same-sex marriage, describing the debate over religious discrimination as “Marriage Equality 2.0” because it is amplifying negative voices.

The findings are from the Make Love Louder report by Macquarie University researcher Shirleene Robinson.

It found three out of four LGBTQ+ Australians have personally experienced negativity or discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender identity and one in four experience it on a daily basis. For transgender Australians, four out of five have experienced it, two out of five on a daily basis.

The research suggests 63 per cent of Australians support the LGBTQ+ community, but three out of four of these, dubbed allies, are “silent supporters”. Dr Robinson said it was important for allies to be vocal to “make love louder than hate”.

Meanwhile, separate research by mental health charity Headspace found most LGBTQ+ young people experience high or very high psychological distress.