Professor (Dr) Dédé Oetomo

Corona virus COVID19

COVID-19 makes the bag of woes heavier for marginalized populations

Agenda 2030 is a commitment by all countries to achieve sustainable development by 2030 for all, ensuring that no one is left behind, including marginalised communities like LGBT and sex workers. However, the stark reality is that, even in normal times, these vulnerable communities in Asia and the Pacific, often suffer a host of inequities and discriminatory laws. Grappling with stigma and discrimination, they often constitute the populations-on-blindspot when it comes to accessing health services (including sexual and reproductive health services), livelihood, social security and societal acceptance. COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated their situation and driven them to the wall, not just in terms of their physical vulnerability to the disease but also in terms of the above factors. “Many of us from the LGBT community are experiencing the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on our lives. Recently, I went for my three-monthly HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) tests at the local clinic and found that the STI test was not available as all the nurses were deployed for COVID-19 work. This is just one of the many examples where basic sexual health services for people are not available. Also livelihood has been impacted in a big way. Many trans-women have no connection with their families. So they do not have any safety net and many of them who do busking and/or sex work, are not able to earn…” These are some of the concerns shared by Professor (Dr) Dédé Oetomo, Adjunct Lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Economics, Universitas Surabaya, Indonesia. He is a noted scholar, educator and a longstanding activist in research, education and advocacy in the fields of language and society, HIV/AIDS and sexuality, mainly at GAYA NUSANTARA Foundation, APCOM and the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR). He was the keynote speaker at the sixth #APCRSHR10 Dialogues, co-hosted by the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR10) and CNS. Mental health and well being In these times, mental health and wellbeing of the gay men has taken a beating, feels Roy Wadia, Regional Communication Adviser at…