June 11 2020
Equality Australia’s submission to the COVID-19 Senate Inquiry highlights the ways LGBTIQ+ people in Australia have been left behind in our COVID-19 response. The submission, which reports on the results from a survey of over 2600 LGBTIQ+ people, confirms that COVID-19 and Australia’s response to it have magnified existing inequalities for LGBTIQ+ people in employment, mental health, accessing services and safety at home.
LGBTIQ+ people, who are overrepresented among workers in some of the hardest-hit industries, came into the pandemic with high rates of unemployment that have intensified due to COVID-19.As a result, the survey indicates that almost 1 in 3 LGBTIQ+ people have lost some income since COVID-19 restrictions, with almost 1 in 5 LGBTIQ+ people having lost more than half or all of their income.
Jobless, and with no or less income, some people have been forced to move back with families of origin that don’t accept them or are finding it harder to access support.
“I lost my job and as a result lost my rental and I now live with my transphobic family who do not accept me and are emotionally, verbally and at times physically abusive.” said an 18-24 year old trans man in Queensland.
“I live with a toxic and abusive family. Prior to COVID 19, my main way of staying positive was to leave the house and see my friends. My friends are my chosen family. They love and support me, and remind me that I’m not the terrible person that my biological family make me feel that I am. Without this lifeline, and being in lockdown with my family, I feel trapped and alone..” said a 25-34 year old bisexual woman.
Mental ill health and personal safety concerns have increased during isolation. Around 1 in 20 LGBTIQ+ people have experienced violence, abuse, harassment or controlling behaviour in the last 12 months from someone they currently live with, or live with someone they fear may be violent, abusive or controlling towards them. 4 in 5 LGBTIQ+ people living with a mental health condition say they are more lonely now or feel low or flat because of COVID-19 restrictions.
A 45-64 year old trans woman who responded to the survey said she is “struggling with [her] own sanity – depression, anxiety & suicidal ideation – very disappointed in the lack of support by most people in [her] life.”
Meanwhile, access to healthcare and services have been hampered by existing discrimination and marginalisation, such as difficulties in changing medical records to reflect a person’s gender.
“The Australian response to COVID-19 has largely ignored existing disparities that LGBTIQ+ people face. Especially in employment, mental health, access to inclusive services, and in finding welcoming and safe spaces” says Anna Brown, Equality Australia CEO.
“Whilst COVID-19 and government response has exacerbated the impacts of inequality faced by LGBTIQ+ people, we know that there was much to be done to improve quality of life and health outcomes for LGBTIQ+ people prior to COVID-19”,
“These findings highlight the urgent need for governments to commit to addressing inequality for LGBTIQ+ people. There needs to be increased funding to LGBTIQ+ specific mental health services and LGBTIQ+ people must be included in the development and delivery of government programs. Outdated laws that allow LGBTIQ+ people to be discriminated against in employment and service provision must be amended. LGBITQ+ people shouldn’t be able to be turned away from vital welfare services simply because of who they are”, Brown concluded.
Media contact Paige Burton, 0418432030 firstname.lastname@example.org
Equality Australia is able to arrange individuals to share their stories for any case studies desired.