Non-governmental organizations working with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender refugees may actually put them into danger.
That’s according to a new report by the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM).
The report claims whilst most non-governmental organizations surveyed said all refugees deserve equal protection, a significant minority said they were unwilling to provide assistance to LGBT asylum seekers.
‘Refugees fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity face further harm from the culture of silence in the international refugee protection system,’ said Neil Grungas, executive director of ORAM. ‘They are placed in housing where they are exposed to violence, or are compelled to hide the true reason they were persecuted, which puts their legal status in jeopardy.
‘Among the most pervasive and violently persecuted in the world, LGBT individuals are virtually invisible in the international refugee protection realm.’
In a number of interviews following the publication of the report, many respondents said their non-governmental organizations were lacking the sufficient tools and knowledge for welcoming service, but wished they could serve LGBT refugees better.
ORAM is issuing a call to action for the surveyed organisations to change their environments and services to refugees, to maintain safe living standards and understandings of discrimination and gender issues.
‘No one chooses to be LGBT and no one wants to become a refugee,’ Grungas added. ‘ORAM calls on those working with refugees to ensure refugees feel safe in the hands of those tasked with protecting them. Only then can we help those who are forced to flee find safety, regain hope and rebuild their lives.’
The report is based on a survey of 384 non-governmental organisations from 100 countries. It was conducted online between May and August 2011.
The full report is available at the ORAM website.