LGBTQ people around the globe are being scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19 by various government officials, religious leaders, and even their neighbors.
In Ghana last week, President Nana Akufo-Addo called for two days of fasting and prayer to ask God to “protect our nation and save us from this pandemic.”
The Muslim Mission of Ghana called for “Allah’s intervention against the coronavirus,” but cast blame for the virus’s spread at the feet of LGBTQ people.
“It is important for us to acknowledge our sins against the world,” the Muslim Mission said, “especially the most abominable acts such as homosexuality, lesbianism, transgender, destruction of water bodies and forests,” reports PeaceFMonline.
According to the Muslim Mission, repenting for the sin of “homosexuality, lesbianism, transgender[ism]” will “bring us Allah’s mercies and intervention in fighting the pandemic in Ghana and the rest of the world.”
In addressing the nation about COVID-19 last week, Ghana’s chief imam, Sheikh Dr. Osmanu Sharubutu, called LGBTQ people “demonic” and called on Akufo-Addo to ban all meetings of LGBTQ people, implying that their undesirable behavior facilitates the spread of COVID-related illnesses.
“The almighty Allah created woman for a man and vice versa,” Sharubutu said. “It is against the holy Quran to indulge in such unacceptable behavior. I am urging all not to indulge in it.”
In India, officials are dealing with claims that have been posted around the city of Hyderabad in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that appear to be an attempt to galvanize the local population against the transgender community.
The posters read: “If you talk to transgenders, you will get Corona.” The posters have been stuck to metro pillars at Ameerpet Metro Station, and on major roads in the city, reports the New Indian Express.
“This is shocking. We first saw the posters just before lockdown and informed the Banjara Hills police. We urge the police to use CCTV footage and nab those spreading hate,” said Chandramukhi, a local transgender activist in Hyderabad.
In fact, Chandramukhi says, it is the transgender community who is suffering and needs government assistance, as they have seen their economic situation worsen due to shutdowns of non-essential businesses and people staying at home to avoid spreading the virus.
Transgender advocates have written to the country’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, asking them to help fix the lack of food security, housing, steady income, and access to health and sanitation facilities, noting that these factors can increase a person’s susceptibility to COVID-19.
“Though some NGOs have come forward to help, the government needs to do more,” said Chandramukhi.
Meanwhile, in Uganda, authorities raided a shelter in Kyengera for members of the LGBTQ community and arrested 20 people, accusing them of violating social distancing measures put into place by President Yoweri Museveni to try and stem the spread of COVID-19.
“It is evident that they were arrested because of their homosexuality,” LGBTQ rights activist Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said, according to the Associated Press. He noted that the house, which serves as shelter for some who have faced familial rejection, has been raided by police before.
Mugisha noted that some of those who were detained are on medication to treat HIV/AIDS, and could have their health threatened if they do not continue receiving treatment. Three of those arrested were eventually released due to poor health.
Mugisha warned that attacks on homosexuals often go unreported in Uganda, and that fear over the pandemic could result in attacks directed against members of the LGBTQ community.
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