The crisis caused by the pandemic hit the most vulnerable citizens hardest and showed the shortcomings of the support system. Although little is said, the LGBTI community is also heavily influenced by the current situation. Their fear of losing their jobs and the stress for their existence have also increased. In these moments, many of them depend on the solidarity of the people who understand and sympathize with them. Their primary needs include equal access to health care, the labour market, law and social protection.
For the first time, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17th May this year was celebrated without public events due to the coronavirus. LGBT United says that the challenge for freedom remains for these people, because they cannot be what they are, because of discrimination, violence or the unacceptable environment in which they live.
During the crisis, the community was hardest hit by economic insecurity. “The biggest problems are job losses, after which these people can no longer afford to pay for basic necessities, let alone rent, threatening to lose their home,” said Bekim Asani, president of LGBT United.
The association is especially active in the field with many different activities. Activists have so far provided more than 250 food packages to distribute to the most vulnerable LGBTI people in the country, paid rents for several citizens not to become homeless, and also bought medicine for those in urgent need. In addition to fieldwork, the association has opened a line for psychosocial support to the LGBTI community and regularly informs it about the pandemic and precautions.
Asani says the community is really in solidarity, not only with LGBTI people, but also with other vulnerable communities. “The first to come to the rescue were LGBTI people who are originally from here, but live in Denmark and the Netherlands. We can say that about 70% of the help comes from individual donors who know and believe in our cause. They are sure that the aid will be given to those that need it the most” he explained.
But the organisation’s efforts to support and advocate for the LGBTI community do not stop there. It was during the state of emergency that the Constitutional Court decided to declare unconstitutionality, ie. repeal the Law on Prevention and Protection of Discrimination. This decision comes at a time when only the most urgent regulations affecting the coronavirus crisis are being made. The association says that they are disappointed with this development, but that they are ready to fight with new forces for the adoption of the law again.
Although we often witness that our society is divided, our responsibility as a civil society is to create opportunities for all people to be what they are and to feel accepted because of it. And for a society to be inclusive for all, it is necessary for every human being to be treated with dignity as he deserves, to be free and to have all rights.
LGBTI United Tetovo are beneficiaries of a grant from the Civic Society Resource Centre for providing protective equipment for the membership of the association, 45 humanitarian packages for the LGBTI community as well as opportunities for further timely informing the community about the risks and dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.