The global pandemic caused by novel coronavirus Covid-19, is affecting every aspect of our lives, including our ability to go to work (those who have one), interact with people, get and receive help and so on. More importantly, the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable members of our community such as the elderly, people with disabilities, homeless people, sex workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, those working in services such as bars, restaurants, free lancers, artists etc. Among these people many are also LGBTIQ+ which adds more complications and additional layers of difficulty and challenges. Of particular relevance here is the lack of support from family and loved ones.
Grassroots and community based organizations, across our region and around the world, are already making immense efforts to provide help and resources to those who mostly need it in our communities. Such is the example of organisation LGBT United Tetovo in North Macedonia, which in the last week only has managed to provide food and toiletry packages for at least 100 members of the LGBTI+ community who are based in Skopje, Tetovo, Strumica and the surrounding areas.
Due to the pandemic and the lockdown measures, LGBT United Tetovo has also closed its community center which is frequented daily by LGBTI people in Tetovo and the surrounding areas. As a mitigating measure, the organization has put at disposal a phone number for members of the community through which they can speak to a psychologist.
ERA’s Steering Board released a statement on 26 March 2020, expressing concern about the effects that the pandemic will have on the most vulnerable communities among us as well as the survival of grass roots organizations who risk losing funding and support.