The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation in partnership with the LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network (LGBT-FAN), and the National LGBTQ Task Force, recently announced an essential new guide, Stronger Together: a Guide to Supporting LGBT Asylum Seekers, during an event at HRC’s Equality Center.
Stronger Together provides crucial advice and guidance to service providers working with LGBT asylum seekers coming to the United States in search of better, safer lives. The work of Center Global is featured prominently in the report. Center Global, a program of the DC Center for the LGBT Community, supports LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in the District of Columbia.
Every year, thousands of LGBT people flee to the United States (U.S.) from home countries where they face persecution and violence because of who they are or whom they love. However, once arriving in the US, LGBT asylum seekers frequently face the daunting task of building new lives in what can be an unfamiliar and often hostile environment.
Asylum seekers who are LGBT often face barriers that others do not. They may continue to face homophobia or transphobia, often arrive in the U.S.without family support, and may be rejected or ignored by organizations that might be helpful to non-LGBT asylum seekers. Even well-meaning individuals could inadvertently undermine the wellbeing of LGBT asylum seekers by providing incorrect or inappropriate advice. Stronger Together offers service providers information on how best to help newcomers adjust, including advising on employment counseling, access to housing, and where to seek legal representation. The guide focuses on assisting service providers in empowering LGBT asylum seekers.
“LGBTQI asylum seekers and asylees should be leaders in this work. They are experts on their own stories and needs, and can use their expertise to serve their own community.” said Nikilas Mawanda, a Ugandan activist and asylee who also contributed to Stronger Together.
“It is wonderful that people in the U.S. want to support LGBT asylum seekers” said SiobhÃ¡n McGuirk, Stronger Together co-author. “It is important that this movement develops in ways that respect the diversity, agency, and views of LGBT asylum seekers and asylees, while also contributing to the wider immigration justice movement. Stronger Together reflects that aim. Over a hundred people contributed to this project, including LGBT asylum seekers and asylees, service providers, lawyers, researchers, and activists.”
The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As LGBT equality advances in some places, people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution and violence around the world.
– An estimated five percent of U.S. asylum claims are based on persecution of sexual orientation or gender identity, suggesting that the U.S. would have received 4,802 applications citing anti-LGBT persecution in 2014.
– In 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.
– In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.
To read the full report click on this link: Stronger Together: A Guide to Supporting LGBT Asylum Seekers.