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Discrimination is getting worse during the pandemic

When Gianna Camacho said she wanted to study at the university, people close to her did not think she could make it. The situation has been discouraging, even until now.  One of these problems is the lack of employment opportunities, which has worsened this last year during the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

 

“When people see us, they exclude us,” this transgender communicator and activist says about the problems faced by the LGTBIQ+ community in our country.

 

“It was trendy to reinvent oneself during the pandemic. So, a friend of mine started selling ceviche, a dish she cooked really well, in order to survive. But she could not sell any. People told her that they could not buy something cooked by a trans woman,” she recalls. This is the reality for many transgender people. As a matter of fact, discrimination in Peru affects several minority groups.

 

The LGTBIQ + community is one of those (71%), people living with HIV also suffer from it (70%) and indigenous people are another minority group that has been largely discriminated (64%). 

 

In many cases, these are normalized actions that infringe upon Human Rights in general, and the right to sexual and reproductive health in particular.

 

“Their vulnerability increased, exposing many groups who were already in need of special protection to the risk of not surviving the pandemic, due to a lack of access to food, health services, medicines, employment, among other deficiencies,” Carmen Murguía—a specialist in Adolescence and Youth at UNFPA—said.

 

In this context, it was necessary to make this problem visible through a swift joint action in favor of the Human Rights for everyone. For this reason, in December of 2020 a campaign was launched to combat this reality based on an investigation process initiated in 2018. The goal: to encourage talking and reflecting about discrimination evidenced in daily actions of invisible violence against the most vulnerable groups.

 

Make discrimination visible

 

“Many of us do not have a choice: we either work on the street or we steal,” Gianna reveals. 40% of Peruvians would not employ a trans person.

 

During the pandemic, the LGTBIQ+ community had to face a major problem. “In view of this emergency situation of not having anything to eat or a place to live, many had to return to their homes from where they were once expelled by their families. They had to return to those violent environments to survive,” the activist says.

 

In order to make visible this and other types of normalized discrimination, four phases were defined, including a diagnosis of the situation, a social media campaign, a reflection hashtag (#PeruFreeOfDiscrimination), and the community campaign in five regions, including  two native languages (2021).

 

 

“The objective was to make discrimination visible on the public and political agenda”, Murguía explains. For this purpose, the UNFPA in Peru, through technical cooperation and intersectional perspective, worked jointly with the UNAIDS, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights,  to get on one hand, national and regional authorities to recognize the discrimination problem and its links with gender inequality, ethnicity/race and sexual orientation, among others, and on the other hand, citizens to reduce discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.

 

Promoting attitude change

 

With the guidelines of UNFPA, the social communication agency, El Directorio, carried out an in-depth research on some groups in need of special protection, such as trans people and the LGTBIQ+ community in general, HIV-positive people and migrants who are also Afro-descendant or indigenous. Many interviews led to these four animated spots.

 

After seeing these spots, you can recognize how your own prejudices provoke acts of discrimination and invisible violence. It is about “promoting attitude changes to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people, especially now during the pandemic,” Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Eduardo Vega, says.

 

Finally, the campaign included different subject-matter experts, influencers and opinion leaders , who amplified the messages. Additionally, a deep discussion was held with them: “Discrimination: a barrier to guaranteing Human Rights in Peru?”

 

This articulated work, between international cooperation and the Peruvian State, has made it possible to make the problem of discrimination visible and to contribute to enforcing the fundamental rights of population with special protection condition before and during the pandemic.