How we can help the LGBTI refugees?

Today I was asked by Amnesty International, to give an opinion in how to support and improve the asylum process that many LGBTI refugees have to pass before their hearings.

Connie from Amnesty International in Hong Kong asks. How to support LGBTI asylum seekers & refugees?

An asylum seeker from Uganda covers his face with a paper bag in order to protect his identity as he marches with the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force during the Gay Pride Parade in Boston

An asylum seeker from Uganda covers his face with a paper bag in order to protect his identity as he marches with the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force during the Gay Pride Parade in Boston, Massachusetts June 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) 

In many parts of the world lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTI) persons face severe discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity 

LGBTI refugees like me may flee their countries due to persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, or for the same reasons as any other refugee – such as ethnic conflict, political unrest, or the lack of religious freedom. 

However, in countries where they seek safety, LGBTI refugees often risk being harassed, hurt, or even killed. They may be targeted by other refugees, host communities, or government officials and police, who may threaten to arrest and detain them.

Based on my experience LGBTI refugees are often reluctant to seek assistance for fear of revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity to people who may subject them to further persecution.  and this “invisibility” has prevented many organizations from reaching out to LGBTI refugees and helping them access services including critically needed medical care (HIV positive individuals) and others. 

LGBTI refugees’ and asylum seekers manifest unique needs and vulnerabilities, especially in countries that are unwilling or unable to protect their human rights.

Based on this information I believe that  the most important things that we need to do in order to ensure, LGBTI refugees get a proper treatment and a positive outcome after they claim for asylum is processed. Train the staff who evaluate asylum claims is very important, also the resettlement staff and program officers.

Additional to this, is to create LGBTI safe environments, since many countries of asylum might not be the best place to be an LGBTI, we need to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are safe and protected from external and even internal treats.

LGBTI refugees face a very particular vulnerability among other refugees, so expediting resettlement, in this cases should be highly encouraged, and a defined quota among resettlement countries should be established in order to warranty that a defined proportion of LGBTI refugees are resettled to those countries.

 

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