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  • Kenz Mangan

Focus Group Discussion Led by ORAM Mexico Will Help Create a Guide for LGBTIQ Refugees

Group photo including participants, volunteers and staff

ORAM’s Mexico Program Officer, René A. Tec-López, recently facilitated a focus group discussion with LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers in Mexico City. The goal of the discussion was to receive feedback on previous resources as ORAM works on creating a comprehensive guide for queer refugees arriving in Mexico City. The discussion group was comprised of 10 refugees and asylum seekers from Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, and Haiti.  

The Structure

René formed the focus group as a discussion that centered LGBTIQ people with experience seeking refuge in Mexico City. “We wanted to gather the opinions and feedback [...] on this material and use this information as a basis for constructing the new guide,” they shared. 

In addition to the refugees who made up the discussion group, ORAM collaborated with local refugee and LGBT nonprofits, Casa Refugiados and Fundación Arcoiris, and migration specialists Amarilis Perez and Ildefonso Hernández. Somos Voces, a cultural forum and LGBTIQ bookstore, provided space for the focus group, while volunteers Lúa G. Canchola, Cherly Innocent de Pierre, and Dahili Gonzalez from Casa Refugiados, assisted with staff, Creole translation, and psychological first aid, respectively.  

Copies of Fundación Arcoiris’ 2017 Guide to LGBTQ Refugee Applicants were sent to focus group participants to review beforehand. They were then divided into groups and assigned sections of the guide to discuss, focusing on how to make it more widely understood, accessible, and useful for the LGBTQ community seeking refuge in Mexico City.  

After presenting their conclusions to the wider group, participants were asked two final questions: 1) In your personal experience, who or what has most facilitated your stay and integration in Mexico City? And 2) What would help you or other refugees integrate into Mexico City in the future?

Rene facilitates the group discussion

ORAM's Mexico Program Officer, René A. Tec-López, facilitating the focus group in Somos Voces

The Findings

The participants expressed the importance of accessibility and use of a common language. Together, they generated user-friendly ideas such as information presented in the form of a comic strip, or a conversation between two people. Adding visual elements ensures that important information is not lost in dense, potentially foreign text.  

Participants also recommended creating a map of Mexico City that marks the locations of organizations, shelters, and services offered to LGBTIQ migrants, such as legal services, health services, cultural and social integration, and safe spaces for LGBTIQ individuals. Navigating the large city as a newcomer had proven difficult to many, leading the group to agree that a specialized map would be particularly helpful. 

René reflected on the discussion, explaining, “An important point they emphasized is the need for more social and cultural integration because even though many of them have refugee status, they still do not feel a part of the city.” The group acknowledged the need for community and support networks for LGBTIQ refugees.

Participants are split into two groups to discuss the materials

During one moment of the discussion, the group shared some of the intense experiences they’d been subjected to as LGBT refugees. Taking a cue from the change in mood to a more sensitive and emotional atmosphere, the team concluded the focus group discussion with a relaxation activity led by psychologist Dahili Gonzalez.

After the invaluable insight gained through the discussion, ORAM’s efforts are now focused on creating the guide itself.  

“Everything shared during the focus group discussion will be useful for creating a more accessible and user-friendly guide for everyone,” says René. “It will include the most important information that allows asylum seekers in Mexico City to know their rights, how to carry out the asylum process, access the various services offered by public institutions, NGOs, and different spaces that support LGBTIQ refugees, and to build a community of LGBTIQ refugees in Mexico City.”  

To stay updated with all ORAM’s activities in Mexico City (in Spanish), please follow ORAM Mexico on Facebook and Instagram

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Adneta Africano
Adneta Africano

Traveling Through and Collecting Data on the Connection Between Employability, Newcomer Reception/Wellness, Industrialization, Urbanization and Public Health in Selected Countries That Make up The Americas

Merry Christmas to you all.

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