This rapid assessment aims to provide a detailed analysis of the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic and the measures to combat it on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) people in the Western Balkans5, Croatia, and Slovenia.6 The Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey (ERA), a regional LGBTI umbrella organization, prepared this report for the World Bank. The assessment is largely based on qualitative information gathered through an online survey of, and interviews with, ERA member organizations as well as a desk review of local and regional research, media reports, government and international community statements, and other relevant resources. While this assessment provides a concise overview of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on LGBTI people in the region, it is does not aim to provide a complete and representative overview of the situation.
Twenty ERA member organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia were interviewed in May 20207 and 31 responded to the COVID-19 questionnaire in May and June, providing detailed information on the impact of governments’ COVID-19 measures on the LGBTI community. These impacts include: the interruption of essential health services by state institutions, organizations increasingly unable to provide essential community services, heightened levels of homelessness, increased incidents of domestic violence, the closure of LGBTI businesses, a significant loss of jobs, and rising mental health problems. The pandemic response has also had a negative impact on LGBTI civil society organizations (CSOs), which report losses in funding, the closure of community centers, the cancelation of services and advocacy and visibility activities, and a general shift toward emergency humanitarian work for LGBTI people in need.