BeLonG To Launches Blueprint for Protecting At Risk LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees

BeLonG To Launches Blueprint for Protecting At Risk LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees 

Monday, 10 December 2012 

Today, Monday 10th of December, BeLonG To Youth Services launched a new report on working with LGBT asylum seekers and refugees to coincide with International Human Rights Day. The report, entitled Key Principles for Working with LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees, is the first of its kind in Ireland and is designed to provide a best practice blueprint for service providers on working with and ensuring the protection of at risk LGBT asylum seekers and refugees.  

Since its inception in 2003, BeLonG To has provided support and services to young LGBT asylum seekers and refugees, many of whom face isolation and marginalisation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In response to growing concerns regarding the wellbeing of these young people, BeLonG To established a project to increase the safety and quality of life of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees. The expertly researched in-depth study has been compiled over the course of the initiative since April 2011, focusing exclusively on LGBT asylum seekers and refugees under 30 years of age.  

The report details the challenges facing LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland, including lack of safety while living in direct provision accommodation; insufficient awareness of issues affecting LGBT asylum seekers and refugees amongst professionals working on migrant issues; lack of early legal advice and trauma.  

Speaking at today’s launch, BeLonG To Executive Director, Michael Barron said: 

Young LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland are often at great risk due to the trauma they have experienced in their country of origin being compounded by experiences of both homophobic/transphobia and racism here in this country. Traditionally in Ireland there has been a failure to adequately address the situation of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees, which has resulted in vulnerable young people being forced to survive in unsafe environments. The asylum process can be extraordinarily difficult of LGBT people, and of course Ireland has one of the lowest overall acceptance rates of asylum seekers in the EU, with approximately 95% of applicants being refused refugee status. 

He continued: 

Today’s report is designed to provide best practice information for organisations and governemnt bodies who work with asylum seeks and refugees to increase their ability to support these LGBT young people. Article 14 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to enjoy asylum from persecution. In Ireland we have made some good strides in recent years in the protection and advancement of the LGBT people’s rights. There is no more urgent a rights issue than the protection and fair treatment of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees”. 

Speaking about their experiences, a young gay refugee from Southern Africa said: “This is the truth: I don’t think I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for BeLonG To. I really wanted to kill myself, I just really wanted to die and get away from this. But then after talking to people from this service, encouraging me and constantly telling me that everything would be ok, and still giving me room to express myself all the time… They have helped me a lot, I have grown, and I have learned how to accept myself.” (Speaker is unnamed to protect their identity)  

Today also saw the launch of BeLonG To’s information video ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ which tells the story of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland. In this powerful and moving video a number of young people who have been supported by BeLonG To talk about the situation in their country of origin and their experience of the asylum process here in Ireland. 

BeLonG To is Ireland’s national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Young People. For the past 10 years it has supported LGBT young people all over Ireland through a network of LGBT youth groups and has delivered education and awareness programmes to schools through teacher training and campaigns such as Stand Up! Don’t Stand for Homophobic Bullying. BeLonG To is funded by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention, the Department for Children and Youth Affairs, the One Foundation and the North Inner City Drug’s Task Force. If you are affected by any of the issues discussed contact belongto.org. Watch BeLonG To’s ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ about the lives of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland:  

This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the European Refugee Fund and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Department of Justice and Equality, Pobal and the HSE