In March 2020, everyone in the UK was asked to change the ways in which we go about our daily activities. New rules about where we can go, when we can leave the house, and who we can see have left many of us wondering about what our rights are in the time of Covid-19.
Who this guide is for
This guide has been developed for all lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people, our supporters, allies, families and friends.
Many of us have questions about what we can expect during this time of change. Can we still get the healthcare and support we need? What should happen if we are worried, concerned or in danger? This guide will try and answer these questions.
All our experiences and needs are different. This guide has been written to support people to understand the situation and make informed choices that are right for them.
If you’d like more information, further support, or to talk to someone about what is right for you, call LGBT Foundation’s helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30 or email [email protected]
Can I get sexual health testing?
Sexual health services are still running but they may be operating differently or open during different times. If you need sexual health support or need a sexual health test, you should contact your local service or check their website for opening times. Many sexual health services are offering telephone appointments. They will only see patients in person when this is absolutely necessary, and you should only go to a service if their staff tell you to. They might send you a testing kit or some medication by post.
You can also get a HIV home testing kit by visiting www.freetesting.hiv/. If you are having trouble ordering one, you can call us on 0345 3 30 30 30.
Services are prioritising urgent cases, such as:
- If you have had a reactive result on a HIV test
- If you need PEP because you may have been at risk of HIV
- If you have been sexually assaulted
- If you are under 16
- If you need emergency contraception because you may be at risk of being pregnant.
If any of these things apply to you, you can call your local sexual health service for support and they may ask you to come in for an appointment.
Can I get my medication?
If you are taking prescribed medications, including HIV anti-retroviral medication, then you should be able to pick these up at your pharmacy like you normally do.
If you are shielding and you cannot leave the house you should contact your pharmacy and ask for your medication to be sent to your home.
Can I still get PrEP from the Impact Trial or monitoring tests if I’m ordering PrEP myself?
If you are on the PrEP Impact Trial you should still be able to get your PrEP. Sexual Health Clinics have changed the way the Impact Trial is delivered. You should check your clinic’s website for information about how to get a PrEP appointment.
Most PrEP Impact Trail clinics are not accepting new people on to the trial at the moment.
If you are ordering PrEP yourself, you should still be able to get monitoring tests. Visit your clinic’s website for information about how to get an appointment.
Many people are choosing to pause taking PrEP if they are not having sex. If you would like to speak to someone about using PrEP, you can email our sexual health team at [email protected]. They can call you back if you leave your number.
Can I get my hormones?
If a Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) has prescribed you hormones then you should be able to pick these up at your pharmacy like you normally do.
You should still be able to get your hormone injections at your GP practice. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Guidelines encourage GPs to continue working as close to normal as possible.
Your GP might suggest that you change to a different kind of hormone medication like gel or an injection which doesn’t need to happen as often.
If you are shielding and need to have your hormone injection, you can ask for a video consultation with a GP or nurse to teach you how to do your own injections at home. Your GP will be able to prescribe you needles, syringes and a sharps box. You can ask your pharmacy to send these to your home.
You might not be able to get your normal blood tests at your GP practice. If you are worried about this, you can contact your GP practice and get a phone or video appointment to talk about it.
What about my Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) appointment?
Some GICs are offering telephone and video consultations, and many are still taking on new patients.
You can find out the most up to date information about GICs by checking the Trans Health UK website or by checking the website of your GIC.
Currently, all transition-related surgeries have been postponed.
Can I get help if I’m being hurt by someone who I live with?
Reports of domestic violence towards LGBT people have increased since the start of Covid-19 restrictions.
Everyone has the right to live free from violence. This includes whether it is from partners, family members or other people you live with. You have the right to be free from:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Cultural/identity abuse (including abuse for being LGBT)
Even though many services are changing and focusing on Covid-19, help and support is still available.
Your right to be safe remains as valid today as it has always been.
If you are experiencing or living in fear of domestic violence contact the organisations below:
- If you are in immediate danger, call 999
- Galop helpline - 0800 999 5428
- LGBT Foundation helpline - 0345 3 30 30 30
Can I get help if I experience a hate crime?
You have the right to be free from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment and name-calling, and the right to feel safe in your home and in your neighbourhood.
If you are experiencing abuse or bullying for being LGBT from your neighbours or from anyone else, you can report this as a hate crime.
You can report a hate crime and find out more here: www.lgbt.foundation/report
Can I get support with my mental health?
Many organisations and services are still supporting people with their mental health by telephone and online.
If you are struggling with your mental health or you just need to talk to someone, you have the right to help and support.
Below are some organisations that can help you:
- LGBT Foundation’s helpline - 0345 3 30 30 30 and [email protected]
- Mind website - www.mind.org.uk
- Samaritans Helpline and email support – 116 123 or [email protected]
If you are having a mental health crisis and you've already been given a crisis line number to use in an emergency, you should call that.
If you have not been given a crisis line number, you can call NHS 111.
If you do not think you can keep yourself safe, you should call 999.
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one. You will not be wasting anyone's time.
The Coronavirus Act makes some changes to the Mental Health Act. These changes are temporary and you can find out more about them on the Rethink Mental Illness website: https://www.rethink.org/news-and-stories/blogs/2020/03/coronavirus-temporary-changes-to-the-mental-health-act/
What if I am a disabled person?
The government have recently updated their advice for autistic people, people with learning disabilities, and anyone who has a health condition that requires you to leave the house to maintain your health.
The government guidelines say that you can travel outside of your local area to keep yourself well if this what you normally did before lockdown. For example, some autistic people and some people with learning disabilities need to exercise in a specific open space two or three times each day. It is best if you can show that this is in a care plan agreed with a medical professional. It might be harder to get an updated care plan at the moment because of Covid-19 restrictions.
If you have a carer or support worker who does not live with you, it is okay for them to accompany you when you leave the house.
You can find out more about your rights as a disabled person here:
What about the Care Act?
The Coronavirus Act makes some changes to the Care Act. The changes mean that during the emergency period social services will not be able to support everybody. The emergency period means a time when the spread of Covid-19 is very high.
The Secretary of State decides when the emergency period will start. The changes to the Care Act will finish when the emergency period ends.
Under the Coronavirus Act, local authorities and social services only have to make sure people get support if their human rights are being breached. This means that you may have to explain to your local authority why you need the support in order to stay safe and well.
Your right to live in safety, and to live free from abuse and neglect remains the same as it was before Covid-19.
You can contact the following organisation if you want to know if being denied social care is a breach of your human rights:
Equality Advisory and Support Service
Telephone: 0808 800 0082
Where can I find more information?
As the Covid-19 situation changes, people might have other questions.
If you have any questions that we haven’t answered here, if you would like support, or if you just need someone to talk to, we’re here if you need us.
You can call LGBT Foundation’s helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30 or email us on [email protected]