Standing together for LGBTQAI+ rights during the COVID-19 crisis – the #YouthofUNESCO story of Farkhad

During these unprecedented times of pandemic, youth represent energy, innovation and creativity, mobilizing communities to help the most vulnerable, including the LGBTQAI+ community. Farkhad Musazov (24), a young human rights defender from Kyrgyzstan, is the embodiment of this.

Farkhad represents the organization “Kyrgyz Indigo”, whose main mission is to create a tolerant attitude towards LGBTQAI+, free from prejudice and stigma.The organization works to improve the quality of LGBTQAI+ lives through comprehensive programmes on human rights, information and visibility, capacity building, and the strengthening of partnerships and solidarity with other organizations.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 crisis, the entire team of “Kyrgyz Indigo” tried to adapt its activities to the new reality, working on measures to limit physical contact and restrict movements, while ensuring that no one was left behind and that everyone had enough support to deal with the crisis.

“At the beginning of quarantine, we tried to quickly adjust current activities and surveyed the LGBTQAI+ community through a new algorithm that allowed remote support of the community in Kyrgyzstan. Since all people remained at home during quarantine, online support was provided from psychologists, human rights defenders and lawyers. Moreover, we tried to post useful online content related to domestic violence. As a consequence of quarantine, cases of domestic violence have become more frequent. To help those who have been affected, up to 5 shelters were opened for the LGBTQAI+ community and activists. Indeed, quarantine has deprived many representatives of the LGBTQAI+ community of income. They faced this reality the moment they could not afford to buy basic products. To provide necessary support, “Kyrgyz Indigo” teamed up with a partner organization called “Labrys” and initiated the distribution of basic food supplies, personal hygiene products and protective equipment. We bought, sorted, and delivered about 400 product packages within 2 months.”

“Kyrgyz Indigo” also works on HIV/AIDS prevention. “We have opened a free delivery of contraceptives and self-tests to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS  and inform people on sexual and reproductive health issues. We created a special team, which contributed to the HIV/AIDS prevention and carried out the social support of people in hospitals and AIDS centers during the lockdown. ARVs (antiretroviral drugs) were also delivered to people unable to move around and beyond the city.”

“Despite the state of emergency and the curfew, young activists, civil society organizations and  international partners stood together, contributing to minimizing the risks to which key populations and minorities are exposed”. Thanks to an immediate collective and cohesive solidarity, Farkhad and its organization were able to support more than 2,000 people from the LGBTQAI+ community throughout the Kyrgyz Republic.