The latest publication from CIASA zooms in on the effects to the Covid-19 pandemic on the LGBTIQ in Masvingo. Among the findings of the report is that the majority faced major challenges in accessing health services as well as that many are facing mental health challenges as a result of disconnect from the society. Read on for further insights.
LGBTIQ+ (commonly known referred to as Ordaa) conditions and preferences are unacceptable orientations in the conservative and restrictive moral and legal platforms in Zimbabwe. Monumental lobbying by civil society organisations (CSOs) to the government and the society have been trending but facing unbreakable resistance in making the ‘sexual minority LGBTIQ+ community’s rights to be visible and recognised from disregard and rejection. Albeit the normative and pragmatic activism and lobbying at national and international platforms, the Zimbabwean government is practically adamant in recognizing and legalising all forms LGBTIQ+ and homosexuality. In spite of the government committing itself in ensuring every citizen’s enjoyment of their civil rights, however, it took a serious downturn on the LGBTIQ+ ‘s sexual rights and preferences.
Apart from government’s resistance, the active human rights defenders (HRD) are also fighting a rigid patriarchal cultural regime and Christendom dogmas amongst other barriers to the tolerance of LGBTIQ+’s rights. Rigid cultural regime and religious teachings does not entertain anything which is not heterosexual in orientation. Basing on these trending conditions, projections highlighted that the LGBTIQ+’s rights and welfare will be severely eroded by COVID-19 pandemic induced ‘lockdowns’ (Matambanadzo, 2020). The stay-in-doors are detrimental in cutting the movement freedoms and supply chains of other critical health and sexual consumables amongst the secretive LGBTIQ+ community. In effort to identify complex dynamics and experiences faced by the LGBTIQ+, CIASA conducted field research on the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the LGBTQ’s experiences. The study was carried out in Masvingo urban.
Denied rights to access health facilities and services
The study discovered that there are only two clinics offering health services to the KP in Masvingo urban, which are the CeSHHAR clinic located in Mazorodze clinic in Mucheke suburbs and other at the PSI’s New Start Centre in the CBD. However, the services offered by these clinics are mixed and also consider other groups such as commercial sex workers hence making them an uncomfortable place for the LGBTIQ+. However, importantly, these clinics also offer the goods and services which greatly needed by the Ordaa.
Denied mental health and LGBTIQ+ community engagement
The continued denial for LGBTIQ+ to access health services, partners and other rights during the lockdown is causing serious mental health problems for them. The denied freedom and critical amenities is thus forcing majority to suffer from serious anxiety and depression. In coping up with the stigmatized conditions and lockdown related stress majority resort to serious drug and illegal substance abuse. The abuse of drugs exposes them to deadly mental illness and related bodily harm. Unfortunately, these incidences are worsened by the absence of other critical services such as rehabilitation and counselling which used to be offered by GALZ.
The study discovered that the LGBTIQ+ have the worst life experiences in coping up with effects of COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown. The abrupt disconnection from others due to business closure and stay-in-doors gravely affected their rights, access to LGBTIQ+ services, mental health among others. The worst effects witnessed herein are escalating drug abuse, increased risk to STIs, suicides and increased violence and stigma in their places. In spite of the fact that these problems have been existing prior to COVID-19 pandemic, their prevalence have doubled or tripled the effects on their rights and welfare. Basing on these observations, the study concluded that, the government needs to reconsider the rights of LGBTIQ+ as essential entitlements in Zimbabwe. Such a move will act as a springboard for them to be prioritized in future ‘state of emergence’ plans for disaster management strategies and reduction of fatal outcomes.
Read the full publication here (5MB PDF)