The world can be a hateful place for LGBTI people. Without a safe place to turn, many are forced to flee and become refugees to find protection. A shocking 77 countries criminalize same-sex acts. In many of them, imprisonment awaits. In others, the death penalty looms.
LGBTI refugees are escaping persecution, violence and sexual assault. They flee to escape the police force, enforcing harsh legislation that makes it illegal to be themselves. Often, their own family and friends become violent, evict them or banish them from their communities.
Those who can, try to escape their homes to find protection. That brings other dangers. LGBTI refugees are not like other refugees. They are seen as outcasts and face discrimination and persecution from fellow refugees. Some are even evicted from refugee camps as a result of social and cultural discrimination.
We must share what is happening and stand up for our LGBTI friends.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading reasons of refugees flee their countries.
IN TIJUANA, THE POLICE RAPED AND BEAT ME. [THEN] THE POLICE TOLD ME IF THEY SAW ME AGAIN IN THE CITY THEY WOULD KILL ME." — LAURA, TRANS WOMAN
MORE THAN 10 LESBIANS ARE ATTACKED IN “CORRECTIVE RAPES” EVERY WEEK IN SOUTH AFRICA DESPITE GAY MARRIAGE BEING LEGAL.
MORE THAN 1/3 OF THE WORLD'S COUNTRIES CONSIDER SAME-SEX SEXUAL ACTIVITY ILLEGAL
Persecuted members of the LGBTI community have a right to register as refugees and seek asylum with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR also recognizes the unique hardships this community faces within the asylum system. In response, UNHCR trains all field workers on how to avoid stereotypes, use respectful means of communication and employ sensitive interview techniques.
A special emphasis is placed on physical security and safety for all people who cite persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Measures of prevention and response are in place to avoid abuse and exploitation including sexual and gender-based violence.
We must stop turning our backs on LGBTI refugees! Now is the time to speak up and drive attention to their plights. Show them that there are people — like you! — who stand by them.