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  • The Digital Divide and Its Impact on LGBTI Individuals and Organisations

    Created: 27/03/2024
    News/Events Category: Technology

    The Engine Room and ILGA World have released research about how the digital divide impacts LGBTI individuals and organisations globally. 

    The report features stories from six organisations based in India (TARSHI), Uganda (HER Internet), Tonga (Tonga Letis Association), Netherlands (European Sex Workers' Rights Alliance), Brazil (Colectivo LGBT do MST) and Jamaica (Transwave Jamaica). 

    The internet has been an instrumental space for LGBTI communities and organisations to advocate, find community and resources, fundraise, and to mobilise against harmful legislation. In some instances, organising and gathering online can also be safer than convening in person. 

    Overall, digital spaces provide an important avenue for visibility, in terms of both challenges faced and the important work LGBTI organisations are doing. 

    Key Findings

    1. Cost is a key barrier to having access to technology and internet connectivity

    The unaffordability of devices, broadband, and data is the biggest barrier to being able to access the internet. How affordable access is for LGBTI individuals depends on many factors including geographic and socio-economic - some of the highest priced data packages are located in Africa, for example. 

    At an organisational level, LGBTI organisations tend to be severely underfunded which impacts the level of access to devices they are able to offer their communities. In addition, rural areas tend to be less connected than urban areas.

    2. There is a need for greater disability inclusion and digital accessibility

    The report highlights the importance of inclusive design, language justice, and issues of online censorship as areas that must be addressed as part of bridging the digital divide. 

    LGBTI people with disabilities face access barriers due to a lack of inclusive design practices on online platforms, devices, and applications. 

    3. Online violence and harassment affects LGBTI people's online participation 

    LGBTI communities are vulnerable to online violence and harassment. This violence can manifest as offline violence, such as physical and sexual abuse and stalking. In extreme cases, it can be life-threatening. 

    Cis and trans women, non-binary, gender-diverse, and intersex people face greater exposure to online violence and harassment. This is worsened by factors like misogynoir and racialised forms of violence. 

    These patterns of violence can lead women, girls and gender-diverse people to self-censor, leave platforms and sites, close online accounts, and participate less in the digital sphere. It can also result in more serious consequences of mental health detriments and offline violence. 

    4. Social and legal barriers limit LGBTI people's full expression online

    Growing anti LGBTI legislation and surveillance from governments and peers impacts LGBTI communities’ freedom of expression, and can result in self-censorship online, as well as offline harms such as arrests, detainment and harassment. . 

    Hostile legislation that criminalises people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions foster environments where people may fear posting on social media and/or accessing public wi-fi and media centres due to surveillance. 

    You can read the report in full here. 

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