The COVID-19 pandemic started as an unparalleled health threat worldwide that has exacer- bated disparities in all regions of the world. The United Nations General Assembly has acknowl- edged that “the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit by the pandemic.” At the front of those most vulnerable, we saw communities of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) shouldering an increased burden of social exclusion, stigma, and violence. Across the world, vulnerabilities in terms of health care access, employment, housing, safety, and many more were already a common experience for GBMSM communities. The pandemic wors- ened those experiences and created additional structural and social barriers to the achievement of their basic rights.
As the world took combined actions to fight the aftermath of COVID19, there was no serious and thought-out efforts from local governments to address the needs of the most vulnerable. UN independent expert on SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) reported that access to healthcare for LGBTIQ+ participants and people living with HIV has reduced up to 23% due to the COVID19 pandemic. In many cases, designated health facilities for GBMSM and PLHIV (people living with HIV) were assigned for COVID19 support. Even vaccination rates among these communities, were recorded low. All this led to adverse effects on the mental health of GBMSM communities and brought immense negative impact on their psychosocial wellbeing. Several services have reported increased demand for psychosocial assistance and four times more suicidal tendencies among the LGBTIQ+ people during the pandemic.
As such, the objective of this report is to explore a recovery plan for GBMSM communities, comprehensive of economic and food security needs, decreased healthcare access response, and strategies to tackle the increased level of violence. We hope this could be a start to produce sustainable policy strategies to tackle the current and future challenges faced by GBMSM communities during the time of pandemic, and in the face of any future similar threats.