As news of the COVID-19 pandemic ricochets around the world, and we all increasingly feel its impact on our lives, I want to take this opportunity to reach out to our friends, partners and supporters to express our solidarity with you, your families, friends and communities, and to outline the measures that the Human Dignity Trust is taking to adapt and respond to the crisis.

The discrimination LGBT people and other marginalised groups face does not stop, and indeed can be heightened, when a global crisis like this unfolds across the world. So, first and foremost, let me reassure you that our work continues with vigour, albeit under very different circumstances.

In the interests of preventing the spread of the virus to more vulnerable members of society, reducing the burden on our healthcare system, and safeguarding the wellbeing of our staff, the entire HDT team have been working from home since 12 March. We are fortunate that our remote working capabilities were already very robust, so we have been able to make this transition seamlessly. We also have operational continuity and contingency plans in place.

We are doing our best to prevent any interruption to our work and our ability to liaise with our partners, legal teams, funders, service providers and supporters. While we may need to work differently, we remain confident in our ability to deliver on our commitments to our brave and valued partners in their important and difficult work.

We have however halted all travel and will be participating in all meetings, conferences and workshops using video and other conferencing facilities. We do envisage interruptions to some of the legal cases we are working on with LGBT activists and lawyers around the world, as courts temporarily close in order to reduce risk. Likewise, some of our legislative reform work with Commonwealth governments may be delayed as government resources are focussed on fighting the virus worldwide.

While necessarily having to work around these challenges, we remain wholly committed to driving forward crucial legal change in favour of the rights of LGBT people around the world, as do all of the international law firms and senior legal figures who make up our Legal and Bar Panels and who are so essential to our work.

Our thoughts go out to all those around the world who have been adversely impacted by the global pandemic, particularly to those who have lost loved ones and livelihoods.

Now more than ever, we wish to show our solidarity with those members of the LGBT community worldwide who are especially vulnerable: those who are immunocompromised, or have other underlying and debilitating health conditions, or are displaced from their homes due to homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination.

Our thoughts are also with LGBT refugees around the world, who are living in crowded and precarious conditions with the constant and real threat of violence, and who, like millions of other refugees, have severely limited access to basic hygiene like soap and clean running water.

This virus is teaching us that we are all connected as a global family, and it provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our similarities rather than our differences; that all of us, no matter who we are or who we love, need equal protection and have a part to play in ensuring we overcome this threat.

With that I wish you all the best of health, strength and resilience in these most testing of times. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us should you have any particular questions related to the Trust’s work.

Téa Braun, Director

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