The burden of the pandemic is more pronounced among vulnerable and marginalized groups in the society, who, in the context of complex disadvantages, do not have the means to cope with the multifaceted disruptions in the labour market, food and health system, and their social networks. The pandemic and different measures taken by the Ethiopian government including State of Emergency (SOE) and strategies to contain COVID-19 affect all citizens in general and LGB in particular.
This mixed methods study seeks to assess the impact of COVID-19 and the wide socio-economic and political upheaval associated with the State of Emergency Proclamation on the lives of LGBs in Ethiopia. The research combines phone surveys involving 200 LGB and qualitative interviews with 12 LGB.
Most of the participants reported experiencing drastic changes in their lives since the advent of COVID-19. The most reported as well as the worst experiences include unemployment/reduced income and food/housing insecurity; fear of COVID-19 infection or death; inability to continue normal daily life, social and intimate relationship; and change in living arrangement. A small proportion of participants also mentioned violence. The study confirmed the precarious situation of sexual minorities in times of crisis. The ongoing war since Nov.2020 and resulting insecurity have led to disruption and destruction of the economy, social and health services; and deterioration of peace and security with significant bearing on marginalized groups.
Long standing and entrenched stigma and widely held notions of heteronormativity have relegated LGB in Ethiopia to the margins of society. The pandemic and subsequent SOE and internet interruptions have pushed LGB into further physical, social, and economic vulnerabilities and marginalization. Within the LGB group, the impact varies across individuals based on their socioeconomic and health standing. The situation calls for concerted policy measures to address economic, social, and health determinants.
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