LGBTI refugees: deconstructing common social thought

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New York Declaration signed on September 19th 2016 by the leaders of 193 countries met up for the United Nations
“Since earliest times, humanity has been on the move. Some people move in search of new economic opportunities and horizons. Others move to escape armed conflict, poverty, food insecurity, persecution, terrorism, or human rights violations and abuses. Still others do so in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters (some of which may be linked to climate change) or other environmental factors”.

This is the beginning of New York Declaration signed on September 19th 2016 by the leaders of 193 countries met up for the United Nations. Their goal is to face the current migratory crisis. The statement contains a series of non-binding principles and tasks of guidelines about migrants management. In particular, it asks for the UE countries to increase the number of resettlement units and reunification for refugees. Moreover, it asks for the richest countries to recognize their own responsibilities in providing humanitarian funding in a safe and fast way for communities hosting a lot of refugees.

International Support – Human Rights association has been supporting a lot of sexual minorities all over the world since 2014. It also supports European countries resettlement and

After having been dedicated to the problems of Kenya’s LGBTI refugees, the association immediately understood the importance of humanitarian corridors for disadvantaged minorities. In 2017, it continued to promote a radical change about social acceptance and social integration into the Union countries.

According to Ilga World’s latest report on state homophobia, 78 world countries still criminalize people with a different sexual orientation or a different gender identity. Sometimes they still apply death penalty. Because of this, in September 2016, the United Nations (UN) appointed the first independent expert on violence and discrimination, based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to research data, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (LGBTI) asking for asylum, must face a lot of discriminations, either from authorities of hostile countries, or from the procedures of Asylum requests in host countries, which are not yet equipped to deal with this particular situation.

According to UE law, people persecuted because of their own sexual orientation and their gender identity, may obtain a status . According to Article 18, member states must consider age, gender and vulnerable people situation in the moment of evaluating the international protection requests.

Article 21, instead, includes a list of people qualified as vulnerable according to the directive. Even if LGBTI candidates are not explicitly mentioned, the list is not exhaustive, so it is possible to claim that LGBTI asking for asylum are included into vulnerable people .

LGBTI refugees campaign, International Support – Human Rights

This is why the International Support Human Rights association has been sensitizing since 2014 about the good practice of programs to adopt together with operators, by promoting support and awareness programs about LGBTI refugees all over Europe.

According to the information coming from NGOs and Kenya’s refugees, in the last year the situation made worse. UNHCR and other associations , which until now had been dealing with resettlement and sustenance plans and of LGBTI people in camps, today is no longer enough and requires more collaboration to let programs carry on. In 2016 some big camps in Kenya risked closing.

The funds sent to LGBTI Refugees for housing, medical care and the maintenance, are getting less and in the last period there were a lot of protests. This is why our association believes we need more information and awareness about the problem. Today this theme still remains marginal for many European countries. The real improvement comes from the context knowledge. For this reason, we have programs giving to everyone clear information about Refugee theme.

Because of this, International Support – Human Rights has just activated a Psychological Support Counseling addressed to LGBTI Kenyan Refugees but also dedicated to all people who need it. The Counseling is an experimental project providing answers to the most frequent questions of LGBTI refugees escaping from their own countries, waiting for resettlement or already resettled in other parts of the world.

Recently, thanks to the commitment of NGOs, the situation of LGBTI people asking for asylum in Europe went on. A Fleeing Homophobia research shows that the practices applied by 25 European countries, generated enormous differences in management of LGBTI asylum applications. In the UE member states, a lot of challenges emerged. Some challenges are the laws criminalizing consensual homosexual acts or expression of a different standard gender identity; the obligation of LGBTI subjects to hide their sexual orientation coming back to their own countries, with the aim of not “provoking” violence and discrimination; the obligation to ask for protection to the Government authorities which often discriminate gay and trans; the growing tendency to judge the lack of credibility sexual orientation or gender identity according to stereotypes; discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTI people into reception structures; the lack of correct information about humans rights and LGBTI people in their own origin countries. This is just a part of problems that member states still have to face about asylum evaluations. However, progresses have been made over time and Ilga-Europe noticed an improvement in UE legislation about asylum activities.

Because of this, in the last year, the International Support – Human Rights Association, thanks to Tobias program, renewed its commitment and its support for NGOs and cooperatives, the improvement of reception system and LGBTI Refugees requests. It promoted a wider point of view about the theme and the solutions to be adopted in all European countries. It also promoted awareness conferences and information workshops to improve the structures help programs. Today it is trying to face

the demanding challenge of reintroducing support programs for LGBTI refugees in Kenya led by UNHCR and HIAS, currently in great difficulty.

Finally, a brief reflection by Paola Villano, a Bologna University teacher and a Social Psychology researcher: we are more and more convinced that, in order to fight all discriminations, especially about LGBTI people, it is necessary to deconstruct that common thought still present in our society and joined to a homophobic and sexist prejudice culture.

To do this, the most important thing is to focus on a careful and respectful communication. We must activate awareness and openness towards all forms of difference.


Article by

Tobias Pellicciari


Paola Villano:

Translation by

Rita Emili

Email :



International Support – Human Rights

Bologna – Bruxelles

Email :

PDF: LGBTI refugees: deconstructing common social thought




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