The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is reporting that a four-country regional survey done in May and June of 2020, found that Guyanese Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQ) persons suffered a high percentage of job losses.
Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson explained that while there are no national statistics for the socioeconomic impact of COVID 19 in Guyana, the study, which was also done in Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia, found that 70% of Guyanese LGBTQ persons lost their jobs or had significantly reduced working hours.
He admitted that the figure is high but noted it is not surprising and quite logical that this may also be higher than the national average. Simpson said LGBTQ persons work largely in informal sectors.
“Those kinds of informal industries would be eliminated due to the COVID pandemic and the curfew and stay and home measures,” Simpson told a virtual panel discussion on Wednesday to commemorate World AIDS Day.
Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD
He was keen to point out that the survey was done roughly four months after the first COVID-19 death and case was recorded in Guyana. The SASOD Director said the livelihoods of LGBTQ people were severely affected and many persons faced stress and mental health issues due to the pandemic.
Simpson said the increase in mental distress was brought on by the loss of jobs, livelihood and the restriction to stay at home and confront homophobia.
“No doubt the loss of livelihood had an impact on stress levels… people were forced to stay at home.
“That put LGBTQ persons at home and in a position to engage and deal with homophobic family members they could have otherwise avoided out of the pandemic… everybody had to stay at home because of the curfew measures,” he said.
Simpson said another issue was the increase in family violence. This manifested in several ways including physical, psychological, emotional and economic.
Simpson said this study was quantitative, where persons only responded to a questionnaire, but noted that a more qualitative study will be done on these matters, including how men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender persons, who are HIV positive, were affected by the pandemic in accessing healthcare.