LGBTQ people represent one of the most vulnerable groups in Georgia. First, homophobic and transphobic attitudes are quite high in society. Secondly, during the Covid-19 time members of the LGBT+ community who are employed in the trade and service fields or hold blue collar jobs (often with daily or weekly wages) are constantly facing suspension or loss of employment, and therewith increased risk of homelessness.
As a part of the project “EU COVID-19 Solidarity Program for the Eastern Partnership country”, Georgian Queer Association – Temida carried out significant activities which aimed at reducing the harm caused by COVID-19 to trans and other queer sex workers in Georgia.
Beka Gabadadze, advocacy and fundraising team, Queer Association – TEMIDA:
In critical situations, when the country was under lockdown and people lost all sources of income, our team helped 100 LGBT sex workers who were left without income. We provided them with food and internet vouchers.
With the help of a community mobilizer and a social worker, we developed an application form for food and internet vouchers and defined the criteria by which beneficiaries were selected. The criteria were defined as homelessness, unemployment, lack of savings, etc. The application form was distributed to the LGBT sex workers community on dating apps (Grindr, Hornet, etc.), Temida’s Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as dating websites.
Also, with the support of other donors, we began to provide psychological services to beneficiaries through online sessions. As part of the “Eastern Partnership – COVID-19 Solidarity Program”, we provided beneficiaries with the Internet, which involved individual and group sessions with two psychologists in Zoom, which helped trans * and LGBT sex workers to improve the mental health.
The second part of the project was to study the issue of homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that most LGBT sex workers are homeless. The call for expert selection was announced as a part of the project. The selected expert, Ada Beselia, studied the problems of LGBTQ community members left homeless due to various circumstances and prepared a policy document “The need for LGBTQ community housing in Georgia.” Based on this document, we sent the recommendations to governmental and non-governmental structures. The presentation of the mentioned policy document was also held on “Temida’s” Facebook page. According to the received recommendations, “Temida” has drawn up an advocacy plan for the LGBT community shelter.
After our advocacy regarding shelter issues as part of the Georgian HIV program, National Center for disease control and public health announced the opening of the shelter of victims of transphobic/homophobic oppression. This is a pilot project in Tbilisi and maybe we can make the same shelters in other two big cities in Georgia.
The COVID-19 Regional Solidarity Program for the Eastern Partnership countries is funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with People in Need and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. This project aims to support civil society organizations in response to the immediate and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Eastern Partnership countries.