LGBT charity Stonewall has said the coronavirus lockdown risks “deepening inequalities”, while the United Nations said LGBT people are at an elevated risk of domestic and family violence.

Both institutions made the statements as they encouraged support on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The annual event, held on May 17, sees nations across the world seeking to increase awareness of LGBT rights, by sharing messages on social media, flying rainbow flags and, usually, taking part in organised marches.

In the UK and for most across the world, parades have been thwarted by the Covid-19 lockdown – with LGBT Pride month set to start in June.

Brighton Pride 2019
Brighton Pride in 2019 (Matt Alexander/PA)

The United Nations Development Programme has said staying at home during the pandemic is having a “disproportionate impact” on LGBT people, with an elevated risk of domestic and family violence and “increased social isolation and anxiety”.

It also said some have been left with difficulties in accessing HIV treatment and “gender-reaffirming health services”.

Laura Russell, Stonewall’s director of campaigns, policy and research, told the PA news agency: “While the global pandemic risks deepening these inequalities and increasing violence, International Day of Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia offers us a chance to raise our voices and break the silence surrounding the challenges facing LGBT communities to be themselves.

“The more people that ‘come out’ for LGBT equality, the sooner we end the hate that makes days like today necessary.”

The theme of this year’s day of awareness is “breaking the silence” and in a statement, Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, said: “We know that stigma and discrimination remain a stark reality for many gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals around the world.

“And sadly, as we celebrate this year’s IDAHOBIT Day, it is becoming clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has, in many places, made this situation worse.

“LGBTI people are often exposed to additional stigma, discrimination and violence, including when seeking medical services – and perhaps saddest of all, within their own families during lockdowns.

“They are also in some places being treated as scapegoats for the spread of the virus.

“I urge everyone to stand up against hate, and to break the silence surrounding the discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTI people.”

In the UK, flags were flown outside emergency service stations and many government buildings to mark the day, while thousands on Twitter shared messages and images of support.

Some of the more creative displays of support included West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, who created an LBGT pride flag out of multicoloured equipment and four firefighters on the floor of a fire station in Horsham.