How is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting LGBTI activism?
Starting this week, ILGA World will publish a series of interviews with our member organisations, who will share with our global family how they have re-organised their work and continued to reach out to our LGBTI communities on the ground.
Spain has been one of the countries that the coronavirus outbreak hit hardest: as of 14 April 2020, 172,541 cases were recorded, with more than 18,000 deaths (source: Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center).
The work of LGBTI activists and organisations to assist our communities, however, has never stopped, although “it has changed completely”. We have spoken to Rubén López, who coordinates the international work of FELGTB – the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales – and serves also as the director of the Madrid Observatory against LGBTphobia. “To our global communities, I would say that they are not alone: we are just a click away from them”.
What is the situation in your country right now, and how is it specifically affecting our communities? How has your activism changed in these extreme circumstances?
It has changed completely. We can't have meetings; we can't attend to victims directly. The work with institutions has stopped.
How are you reorganising your work and reaching out to communities on the ground?
The internet is the key. The possibility of interacting and networking with the LGBTI population level is essential in these cases to address any situation. We try and strengthen our work by offering our services via internet, email, social networks and telephone. We are also available to answer on video calls.
Rubén López coordinates the international work of FELGTB and serves as the director of the Madrid Observatory against LGBTphobia
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, how do you take care of yourself?
By avoiding contact. The situation in Spain is very hard: we are the country with the highest number of infected patients in Europe, and with the second highest number of casualties. The country is paralysed. A self-care measure is simply not to go out - except when there’s need to buy food. When we go out, we do so with masks and gloves.
If you could share one positive message to our global communities at this difficult time, what would it be?
I would tell them that they are not alone: we are just a click away from talking to them.
All of this shall pass: if you need anything, please contact us so that we can help you, give you psychological support, resolve your doubts or provide you with any material you may need.
We have to fight the loneliness that haunts those who do not have others around them, who live alone or – worse - with people who do not respect them for being LGBTI. That's why it's essential that we have reach out to them.
Help is at hand! FELGTB has set up a Rainbow hotline for LGBT people in situations of vulnerability aggravated by the health crisis. The Observatorio Madrileño contra la LGTBfobia can be accessed here. Please contact the organisations to find out more on the support that they can provide.
ILGA World has also created a developing collaborative list of remote working and wellbeing resources, and started a campaign to spread positive messages for LGBTI communities in this difficult time. Join us!