Let Us Stop Scapegoating the LGBT By Gaazal Dhungana, Henrietta Barnett School

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage globally, tensions are high. Quarantines and lack of toilet rolls seem to be enough to break marriages and friendships. Otherwise sane members of the public lose their mind when they see hand sanitiser. And, perhaps most bizarrely, religious leaders can’t get enough of blaming the LGBT for it.

In Iraq, Shia political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who is leader of the Sadrist Movement and the Saraya al-Salam militia, commented on Twitter on Saturday 28 March.

He wrote: “One of the most appalling things that have caused this epidemic is the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Hence, I call on all governments to repeal this law immediately and without any hesitation.”

He implied that only countries with equal marriage laws were susceptible to COVID-19. However, Iraq has 630 confirmed cases and 46 deaths, and has not legalised same-sex marriage. Earlier this month, a US evangelical preacher declared that the spread of COVID-19 was God’s response to the legalisation of equal marriage and abortion.

Perry Stone said: “So why is there a reckoning? I’m gonna explain it in these simple terms. There’s a reckoning because the courts of the land passed a law to take an infant’s life… and for marriage, that we have known it, to be changed into something we’ve never known.” The claim seems particularly weak, however, as same-sex marriage is illegal in some of the worst impacted countries, such as China, Italy and Iran. At the time of the comments, American levels of the outbreak were relatively low.

Whilst these reactions are almost comical, it is important to remember that members of the LGBT community are often unfair victims of discrimination and violence in the UK.The number of transgender hate crimes recorded by police in England, Scotland and Wales had risen by a shocking 81 per cent since 2018. Today, 31st March, marks the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility.Today, more than ever, it is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of equality for all. Today, and in unprecedented times such as this, we must stay together and respect everyone.

By Gaazal Dhungana

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