On the day of the fight against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, on May 17, LGBTQI community organizations – WISG, the Equality Movement, Identoba Youth and Temida – issued a joint statement. The public’s attention is drawn to the interdependent socio-economic and cultural oppression and to the rights by which they demand the liberation of oppressed groups on any grounds.
“In the three years of the pandemic and now in the conditions of Russia’s imperialist and Fascist war, we have to live in a state system where the socio-economic well-being of the population is not a priority for those in charge of political power and economic resources. For LGBTQI people, this situation further exacerbates the issue of basic survival and safety.
In addition to other systemic social and economic pressures (which can affect people with disabilities, single parents, service workers, etc.), the prevailing cultural discourse on gender and sexuality further restricts our access to such benefits as institutional support from parents and families, as well as the state itself.” – is mentioned in the statement, which focuses on decent workplace, decent healthcare, housing, education, security, and access to public space.
The statement also mentions “Total privatization” of the country’s resources, due to which “a large portion of the population is experiencing economic hardship. There is an endless wave of labor migration from the country, as the local government does not provide jobs for people. Meanwhile the private sector is not even required to set a minimum wage, which is why most people agree to over 8 working hours of exploitation, as they do not earn survivable wages. In the case of LGBTQI people, this is compounded by discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation, or a complicated job search process.”
Speaking of the right to decent health care, it is noted that the commercialization of the health care and hospital sector creates a profit-oriented and minimum cost-oriented market environment, while the state “refuses to be a guarantor of the fundamental and constitutional right to access decent health care.”
LGBTQI community organizations also talk about the risks of lacking social support – “The weakening of social support may have an impact on the mental health of the population on the one hand, and the availability of necessary services on the other. Marginalization, stigma and minority stress, among other social and economic factors, have a significant impact on both the general health and well-being of LGBTQI people, as well as access to health services and referrals to specialists. The needs of the LGBTQI group in of healthcare have not been researched and studied, therefore, they are not reflected in the existing action plans and strategies in the health sector. Over the years, as a result of the state’s denial of trans-health care and the lack of medical protocols, many people have resorted to self-administration of hormone therapy. All of this is dangerous to health and in some cases can even be fatal.”
The statement also criticized the fact that “there is no state housing policy that would provide housing for the various needs of different social groups. Be it shelters – for victims of violence, housing for IDPs, or for students who have moved from regions to big cities. Added to this is the lack of shelter for those that have lost their family support because of their gender identity and its expression. The state still does not recognize the need for shelter and housing for people discriminated in this way.”
At the same time, the statement addresses the educational challenges facing young people who, without guarantees in the unregulated labor market, have to both study and work to pay their tuition. This adds additional barriers to discrimination against LGBTQI people and increases their vulnerability.
Speaking of security, it is mentioned that the state acts as a repressive apparatus, which perceives members of the LGBTQI community as potential threats and makes them special targets for surveillance and control.
“Security, in the context of the current war, is a global challenge. Yet we live in an age of propaganda of war and militarism, where the arms dealers offer the secure future of this world at the expense of reducing the social and economic well-being of the people through increasingly armed means. Locally, our state security institutions appear to be a repressive apparatus of the state instead of an anti-militaristic, social welfare-oriented understanding of security, and policy-making. The fact that members of the LGBTQ community continue to be perceived as potential threats by such bodies and placed under special surveillance and control speaks for itself,” the statement said.
Speaking of the right of access to public space, it is true that LGBTQI people are most restricted in their freedom of assembly and expression. Although, in general, society is increasingly losing access to public spaces, gathering places, parks, squares or forests, which are intensively privatized.
The authors of the statement also point out that for years, they took to the streets on May 17 to expose the social, economic and political oppression of LGBTQ people, but “this attempt turned into a powerful political manipulation, instrumentalization, overcoming fundamental socio-economic needs and public confrontation by anti-progressive and anti-social policy makers.”