Protect Queer Communities: Fight Monkeypox Now!

The monkeypox virus is widely circulating in Europe and worldwide, resulting in the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring it a global health emergency on 23 July 2022. By then, more than 17 000 cases had been reported globally, the vast majority of them in Europe. Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and France have each reported several thousand cases. Severe cases occur more commonly among children, people with a weak immune system and pregnant women – the death rate in the current outbreak is around 1%.

Monkeypox manifests itself through skin eruption and rashes. The virus can easily be transmitted from human to human by close or intimate contact. Some cases have been identified in sexual health clinics in LGBTI communities and in particular among men who have sex with other men.

The risk of monkeypox is not limited to this group, but it seems to appear at a higher frequency among gay and bisexual men.

The WHO recommends using a smallpox vaccine against monkeypox, as it is about 85% effective. The European Commission has authorised the use of the Danish Imvanex vaccine for protection against monkeypox. There are currently not enough smallpox vaccines available to the general public, in particular to risk groups such as gay and bisexual men, sex workers and healthcare professionals.

The French government plans to vaccinate around 165 000 people within the next six months. France has already started to vaccinate people on a voluntary basis. But the people at risk represent a much larger group. Many questions remain around why governments are unblocking such a low number of vaccines.

We therefore call on European governments to:

  • Carry out efficient, voluntary vaccination campaigns of people in the risk groups as well as health workers
  • Ensure transparency on vaccine capacity and the actual needs in each country
  • Combat homophobic narratives and medical discrimination of LGBTI communities
  • Support frontline health workers, especially the ones working in sexual health


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