In moments like these, where even our former allies are using us to advance their own political goals, pride and its value become ever clearer.
Pride is protest and a celebration of our diversity. This June has brought a complex moment into focus — with a pride march returning to Warsaw just days after Hungary passed an “anti-propaganda” law banning the teaching of anything LGBTI-related in schools, as one governing party in Spain re-took control of the legal gender recognition law reform process from a politician who blocked the process for months and herself holds so-called “gender critical” views and a storm of online hate rocks LGBTI activists in Albania, and as the grip of the pandemic loosens in some parts of the region while others are still struggling to control the pandemic — a battle in which access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment, alongside vital care for trans and intersex people, were too frequently deprioritised.
In the context of COVID-19, LGBTI organisations across the region reported breakdowns in healthcare for trans and intersex people, as life-saving transition-related healthcare was cancelled or postponed, and as travel to a trusted doctor became difficult or impossible. For example, intersex people are frequently subjected to medical trauma, and often seek healthcare from only trusted providers, who may be far from home, even requiring cross-border travel. Due to national lockdowns and restrictions, life-saving transition-related healthcare was cancelled or postponed, and travel to a trusted doctor became difficult or impossible. Similarly, breakdowns in HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services were reported around the region. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Europe and Central Asia dramatically impacts gay and bisexual men and trans people, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia remain all too prevalent, pushing LGBTI people into the closet and keeping them from seeking effective HIV interventions for fear of stigma, discrimination, and ostracisation.