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  • Kenz Mangan

Q&A on ORAM’s new Inclusion Project for LGBTIQ refugees

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Featuring Anja Limon and new staff member, Adam McNally

ORAM has been working for months to implement a training program that will help refugee professionals working with LGBTIQ asylum seekers approach their work with inclusion and sensitivity. Earlier this month, we welcomed Adam McNally as our Inclusion Specialist to lead the day-to-day management of the project. Adam works closely with our Senior Program Manager, Anja Limon, who supervises the project. We interviewed Adam and Anja to get a clearer picture of the Inclusion for LGBTIQ refugees project, our goals moving forward, and how we'll work to achieve them.


How did ORAM’s current Inclusion for LGBTIQ refugees project come to be?

Anja Limon: Between 2012 and 2016, ORAM trained thousands of refugee professionals and decision-makers globally on how to work with and protect LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees. ORAM picked up this work again in 2022 in a series of LGBTIQ sensitization training sessions for staff working at refugee shelters across Mexico.

Following the increased number of displaced queer persons in Central and Eastern Europe, ORAM identified a need to provide training to ensure that LGBTIQ refugees and displaced people can access services and equal rights.

Adam McNally: Some of the countries in Eastern and Central Europe are generally less LGBTIQ friendly, impacting the support available to LGBTIQ displaced persons. ORAM's research found that many queer Ukrainian refugees opt to remain in neighboring countries of Ukraine, despite these states being less welcoming of the LGBTIQ community. This reveals the complexities and challenges faced by displaced LGBTIQ individuals in these regions, providing a basis for targeted and informed interventions to improve support and address their unique needs.

What unique skills, background, and experience do you each bring to this work?

Anja: I’ve studied Migration Law and Policy and worked directly with LGBTIQ refugees in several locations over the last seven years. I have a good understanding of the challenges LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees face on their journey to safety, as well as an understanding of barriers to accessing existing services.

Adam: With a master’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, I've gained an acute understanding of the impact violent conflict can have on sexual and gender minorities, as well as the legal and socioeconomic challenges they face. My knowledge of human rights comes from my bachelor's degree in law and a professional diploma in EU Asylum and Refugee Law. I bring several years of experience in training and development from varying sectors, which will support the design and delivery of our inclusion training programs.

What is the “ultimate goal” of the inclusion project?

Anja: To achieve the inclusion of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees in existing humanitarian work in the region, ensuring that they are supported, protected, and able to access services. Additionally, we wish to empower various stakeholders and provide them with the tools to ensure they can work with this vulnerable population.

Adam: Our goal is to make mainstream refugee programming more inclusive for the displaced LGBTIQ community.

What partnerships will arise through the inclusion project, and how will those partnerships help reach the desired outcomes for the project?

Adam: Embedded in our work is the 'do no harm' principle; this guides our approach when working in different regions. We are keen to partner with local organizations and key stakeholders from the region because they have that immediate, in-depth understanding of cultural sensitivities that we might not be familiar with.

These partnerships will also help us to enable smaller, locally led groups to become first responders, shifting the power from big INGOs, emphasizing a bottom-up approach in humanitarian efforts.

What aspects of the inclusion for LGBTIQ refugees project are you personally looking forward to?

Anja: I look forward to seeing how individuals and organizations respond and how this leads to more inclusion of LGBTIQ refugees in a region where this community is not always accepted.

Adam: I look forward to engaging diverse stakeholders active in on-the-ground initiatives for the LGBTIQ displaced community. Meeting them, gaining insights from their experiences, and delving into potential collaborations will be great. I want to explore how our inclusion program can be a catalyst for meaningful social change, contributing to the creation of sustainable and comprehensive support. The emphasis on learning and exchanging knowledge is what I am looking forward to the most.


ORAM's new Inclusion for LGBTIQ refugees project is made possible thanks to the support and commitment of Center for Disaster Philanthropy, who in June awarded the organization a groundbreaking grant to make this project possible. You can read more about that grant here.

Thank you, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, for your continued commitment to the protection and empowerment of LGBTIQ refugees around the world.

Adam and Anja will roll out the first training session in February 2024 in Poland.

Want to help us grow ORAM’s Inclusion for LGBTIQ refugees project? Click the button below to help ORAM continue providing training for professionals working with LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers.

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