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  • Writer's pictureKyle Kvamme

Top takeaways from ORAM Mexico’s first event, “Dialogues on LGBTIQ refuge and asylum in Mexico City”

Pictured: René A. Tec-López, ORAM's Mexico Program Officer, facilitating the organization's first event in Mexico City.

On Thursday, July 28th, ORAM’s Mexico Program Officer, René A. Tec-López, facilitated ORAM’s first formal event in Mexico City, “Dialogues on LGBTIQ refuge and asylum in Mexico City.”

The inaugural event brought together three of the most significant organizations currently working with LGBTIQ refugees in the community. Representatives from Casa Frida, Casa Refugiados, and Casa de las Muñecas Tiresias joined René to discuss their organizations’ specific programs and identify challenges, obstacles, and the greatest needs to best serve LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers in Mexico City.

Pictured: René presenting on ORAM's work during the event.

Referring to the event as one of the most important moments since officially joining the ORAM team, René kicked off the event by welcoming the representatives from the three organizations and guests for attending the event.

After René’s welcome message, the representatives from each organization introduced themselves and the work of their organizations. While all three organizations support and address issues related to the refugee and LGBTIQ communities, each has a different niche.

Casa Refugiados supports refugees and asylum seekers displaced by violence who have fled to Mexico. They help refugees, including LGBTIQ refugees, integrate into life in Mexico by providing access to legal support, employment, healthcare, and housing.

Casa Frida protects victims of violence and hate crimes during their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. In addition to supporting LGBTIQ refugees through their humanitarian program, they have an employment program for LGBTIQ people fleeing violence called the Contrata LGBTIQ Program.

Casa de las Muñecas is a shelter for vulnerable trans women living in Mexico City. Founded by a trans activist, Kenya Cuevas, after the murder of her friend, they provide a safe place for trans women to have a fulfilling life. They provide psychological support to their residents and create a community.

Pictured: The presenters during the "Dialogues on LGBTIQ refuge and asylum in Mexico City" event.

To begin the discussion, René asked the participants about the main challenges their organizations face when working on behalf of LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers. Across all three organizations, they identified that better sensitization is needed among support organizations. “It’s sad when we [transgender women] go to an institution, and they don’t recognize us. And if they do, [they often] mock and ridicule,” Casa de las Muñecas’ representative said. For the private sector, Casa Frida reported companies closing their doors to their employment program, Contrata LGBTIQ Program, due to the “complicated” issue around hiring refugees.

Another point of discussion from the event was that to best assist LGBTIQ refugees, a more specialized and tailored approach is necessary. “We started conducting needs assessments, providing integration advice, and housing support. However, when we encountered [sexual orientation and gender identity and expression] diversity, we realized that a single route for everyone was not enough,” a representative from Casa Refugiados shared.

One takeaway related to the need for a multi-faceted approach was whether Mexico is a desired final destination for LGBTIQ asylum seekers. Casa Frida and Casa Refugiados reported that more LGBTIQ refugees want to stay in Mexico. In contrast, Casa de las Muñecas shared that most transgender women want to reach the United States. “Here in Mexico City, they would receive many benefits, but they feel more protected and freer there,” the representative shared.

As the formal discussion ended, René opened the conversation to the audience members to ask questions and share their thoughts. One crucial subject addressed during the audience “Q&A” portion was the importance and challenges of documenting the testimonials, experiences, and stories of LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers in Mexico.

Pictured: Members of the audience during "Dialogues on LGBTIQ refuge and asylum in Mexico City."

After the audience members were done asking their questions, René concluded ORAM’s first panel discussion in Mexico City. The event’s topic and main takeaways from this event will be the driving force to ORAM’s next undertaking 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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