Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, India has been under a national lockdown since March 2020. The circumstances of different marginalised population groups, including gender and sexual minorities (GSM), has worsened during this pandemic. There has been little to no effective effort from the Indian government to mitigate the various challenges faced by the GSM community in the country, an already vulnerable and marginalised population group. Notably, the petition in the Delhi High Court to protect the LGBTIQ community and sex workers was declined without any explanation.
Additionally, contrary to the available data on domestic violence complaints received, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has denied any increase in domestic violence during the lockdown. Meanwhile, the government of India proactively released the draft rules of the much-opposed Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act for feedback, during the national lockdown. Apart from this Act, the government has made changes to several other laws, rules and regulations, such as Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020, Data Management Policy, and unique health ID regulations, among others. These changes have affected the rights of several marginalised population groups, including gender and sexual minorities.
It is under these circumstances that the GSM community have had to appeal for relief, while accessing relief and support during this pandemic has been forced to largely go digital. Apart from a lack of affordable access to the internet, there is a gender bias in the availability of access to the internet in India.
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