• ORAM


New web portal to help rising numbers of LGBTI refugees fighting for safety

On World Refugee Day, ORAM launches new web portal to help official bodies and NGOs share approaches to handling LGBTI refugees and to adopt and share best practices

  • This groundbreaking resource comes as ORAM reports refugee professionals are not equipped to handle the growing numbers of LGBTI people fleeing countries where they are persecuted

  • ORAM further calls on governments and UNHCR to release statistics to quantify the magnitude of the crisis and urges all agencies handling refugee claims to learn how to better deal with LGBTI refugees

On World Refugee Day (20 June 2014), ORAM – the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration – is today launching a new online portal to help official bodies and NGOs share approaches to protecting LGBTI refugees and to adopt best practices in the face of rising persecution of LGBTI people globally. The LGBTI Refugee Project Portal showcases projects and approaches that enhance the protection of LGBTI forced migrants in the areas of refugee status determination, policy development and research, practical protection measures and staff development. ORAM is encouraging posting of projects that will lead to better treatment of LGBTI refugees across the globe.

ORAM says the recent upsurge in the marginalization and persecution of millions of LGBTI people across the world has led to the number of refugee claims rising sharply, and yet only a small percentage are disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause, for fear of further persecution or rejection. Even when the refugees do come out, many refugee agencies are not handling their claims properly or sensitively. This is resulting in many LGBTI refugees not requesting protection or being sent home to face intolerable human rights abuses, or is resulting in them finding further difficulties in their place of refuge if they are lucky enough to be granted asylum.

Neil Grungras, founder and Executive Director of ORAM, said: “LGBTI people are among the most persecuted individuals in the world. In tens of countries, LGBTI people regularly face harassment, arrest, interrogation, torture and beatings. Consensual same-sex relations between adults are criminalized in over 80 countries, in eight of these by death. We have identified that whilst there may be over 175 million LGBTI people living under conditions of peril or violence worldwide, fewer than 2,500 a year may be accorded asylum or refugee protection based on their sexual or gender identity. This clearly points to an urgent need to improve the ways official bodies manage LGBTI refugees. We hope the new LGBTI Refugee Project Portal will lead to sharing and implementing best practices globally.”

In addition to launching the portal, ORAM is calling on the UNHCR to maintain and release statistics about the LGBTI refugees within its protection mandate. It says that only with accurate data can the crisis be appropriately addressed. The scant statistics indicate that approximately 5 percent of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers may in fact be fleeing their countries because of persecution due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. ORAM says that the actual figures are much higher but that the vast majority are going unreported.

ORAM is also calling on all government and intergovernmental bodies to ensure the appropriate training of their staff, to recognize genuine LGBTI asylum claims and to better understand what it means to be an LGBTI refugee, to help ensure they are sensitively and appropriately treated.

Some jurisdictions deny refugee claims, telling applicants to go home and conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity in their home countries. In November 2013, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that it was no longer acceptable for European countries to assume people can go back and hide their sexual or gender identity, and this judgment is now being acted on increasingly at European borders. ORAM points out this reflects the urgent need for all bodies processing asylum claims to undergo training that is in-depth and nuanced to convey the complex nature of LGBTI identities and claims. The training offered by ORAM is being evaluated by Columbia University – with US State Department funding – to ensure it is the most effective global training solution.

Neil Grungras continued: “LGBTI people are doubly marginalized in that the few who manage to escape often find that conditions in their countries of transit are not much better than those they fled. They are often targeted for violence by authorities or civilians. The scant survival resources normally available to other refugees are often closed off to them. We need to ensure that any official body handling LGBTI migrants is able to understand the myriad issues and manage these cases sensitively and appropriately. We encourage all agencies and NGOs processing refugee claims to share examples of good practice through our portal in the hope it will help others to improve approaches and lead to safety for the many LGBTI refugees currently fighting for their survival.”

For more information on the LGBTI Refugee Project Portal, visit: Notes to editors: About ORAM ORAM — Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration – is the world’s leading advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex refugees. ORAM’s mission is to advocate on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

ORAM works to effect fair and more humane policies and faster response times for LGBTI refugees in the international refugee processing system by advocating and building the awareness, capacity and willingness of mainstream, refugee-focused and community institutions to assist LGBTI forced migrants. This is accomplished through research identifying protection gaps, advocacy for best practices, legal representation, social change communication, and the best, most sophisticated trainings programs available anywhere for refugee stakeholders and adjudicators. About the LGBTI Refugee Project Portal The LGBTI Refugee Project Portal contains projects and approaches that enhance the protection of LGBTI forced migrants in the areas of refugee status determination, policy development and research, practical protection measures, durable solutions, and staff sensitization and development. The projects in this portal are drawn from many countries, and bring forward ideas and practices relevant to stakeholders across sectors and borders.

About ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration ORAM is an international non-profit organization devoted to capacity-building and advocacy on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, including those fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

ORAM delivers highly innovative research, tools, trainings and empirically based assessment programs to refugee professionals and institutions around the world. ORAM’s programs and activities are designed to uphold the integrity of the international refugee system, in turn giving exceptionally vulnerable refugees the protection they need and deserve.

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