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An LGBT-inclusive response to COVID-19

Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity


The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge that has exacerbated the inequalities prevalent in all regions of the world. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse (LGBT) persons, who are already victims of violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have been severely affected by this pandemic.

The United Nations General Assembly has acknowledged that "the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit by the pandemic." The UN Secretary General has noted that the “COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the vulnerability of the least protected in society.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Independent Expert has been monitoring the ways in which the pandemic is affecting persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. A wide process of dialogue initiated in March 2020 lead to a variety of outputs, as listed below. Information received allowed the Independent Expert to conclude that COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on LGBT persons; that, with few exceptions, the response to the pandemic reproduces and exacerbates the patterns of social exclusion and violence already identified by the IE SOGI; and that urgent measures must be adopted by States and other stakeholders to ensure that pandemic responses are free from violence and discrimination.

ASPIRE Guidelines

In June 2020, the Independent Expert developed a groundbreaking set of guidelines to help States fulfill their obligations to prevent and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons. The “ASPIRE” guidelines on COVID-19 response and recovery, free from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, are based on six fundamental actions. These actions are considered good practice in the design, implementation and evaluation of measures of pandemic response and recovery:

Indirect discrimination avoidance

On 18 June 2020, the Independent Expert sent these Guidelines to all Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva and New York.


The Independent Expert dedicated his thematic report to the 75th session of the General Assembly on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity during the COVID-19 pandemic (A/75/258).

To inform his report, the Independent Expert sent a questionnaire jointly with eleven other Special Procedures mandate holders. He received 55 inputs specific to this issue, in addition to the numerous submissions covering issues of common interest to the twelve mandate holders.

Policy statement

On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) on 17 May 2020, a group of United Nations and international human rights experts called on States and other stakeholders to urgently take into account the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT persons when designing, implementing and evaluating the measures to combat the pandemic.

The statement, made by 96 United Nations and regional human rights experts, is the first policy component of the Independent Expert’s response in relation to the pandemic.

View "COVID-19: The suffering and resilience of LGBT persons must be visible and inform the actions of States" in English | Français | Español

Press releases

US Government urged to do more to prevent major outbreaks of COVID-19 in detention centres, 29 May 2020
English | Español

States must include LGBT community in COVID-19 response: the how and why from a UN expert, 14 May 2020
中文 | English | ​Français | Russian | Español

New law proposal endangers rights of the trans and gender diverse persons, warns UN expert Hungary, 29 April 2020 Hungary

UN rights experts fear Uganda is using COVID-19 emergency powers to target LGBT people, 27 April 2020
中文 | English

COVID-19 security measures no excuse for excessive use of force, say UN Special Rapporteurs, 17 April 2020
العربية | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

"Unacceptable": UN expert urges better protection of older persons facing the highest risk of the COVID-19 pandemic, 17 April 2020
العربية | 中文 | English | русский | Español

Open Letter on COVID-19 to the LGBT community

On 27 March 2020, the Independent Expert issued an open letter on main trends of disparate impact of COVID-19 on LGBT communities around the world, seeking input on COVID-19-specific impact.

Read the open letter on COVID-19 to the LGBT community
Word: English | Français | Español