Subaru Outback rear latch handle sticks

For some time now, the rear latch handle on my 2001 Outback has stuck up after I open it, but I could pull it back down into position with my fingers. This morning it was so difficult to pull closed I barely managed to do it after long effort, and now it is just as difficult to open. I’ve tried WD 40 and graphite to no avail. It’s really essential that I be able to access the cargo area through the rear door. Any ideas on how to fix this?