LGBTI migrants and refugees
This August, the IARS International Institute and the Epsilon partnership raised awareness on LGBTI migrants and refugees, one of the most vulnerable groups in modern Europe, focusing on the urgent need to increase the knowledge, skills and awareness of professionals who come into contact with them.
According to the UNHCR, over 1.1 million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 and this flow continued and increased in the last few years. Last year, this flow continued at a rate of 55,000 per month. War, violence and poverty force these individuals to abandon their homes and as a consequence of this, their basic needs and human rights are compromised. This also includes their dignity and respect, and being free to exercise their sexual orientation, have a partner from the same sex and develop a family life without running the risk of being killed, harmed or bullied.
Under EU law, individuals persecuted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity qualify for refugee status but, on the other side, we know from research that public authorities as well as the migration/asylum procedures are often not equipped to deal with their particular situation.
Epsilon's innovative educational tools and training courses
During the two year project, the Epsilon consortium has worked together under the leadership of the IARS International Institute – guided and evaluated by the LGBT Advisory Board – to develop a set of highly innovative educational tools and training courses informed by the real needs of LGBTI migrants and refugees.
This evidence-based e-learning platform aims to expose professionals to the changes in legislation, which point towards development; but more importantly to address the areas of discrimination that the law has not been able to prevent. The platform consists of three distinctive modules:
- Being LGBTI
- LGBTI Asylum Seekers and Refugees
- LGBTI Inclusive Environment for Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees
The platform benefits both professionals and volunteers who provide services to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers – enabling them to better address issues of dignity, respect, inclusion and discrimination.
The recently published Epsilon E-book titled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Migrant: a European Story of Discrimination and Empowerment” brings new and original evidence from the UK, Netherlands, Cyprus, Italy and Greece. Each participating country conducted desk-based research and qualitative fieldwork in their respective locations.
UK research findings
One of the main findings from the UK research was that LGBTI migrants often feel more comfortable seeking support from organisations set up to serve the LGBTI community rather than immigration specialists and public services. To accommodate this many LGBTI organisations are operating in areas where they were not set up to do, putting a strain on their time and resources. It has also led to recognition that immigration specialist organisations need to work harder to be more welcoming to LGBTI migrants.
We have also found that home country networks often provide vital support for asylum seekers and other migrants on arrival. However, for many LGBTI migrants to draw on this support means a continual denial of an essential part of who they are due to the fear of discrimination. As such, supporting LGBTI migrants to gain the skills necessary, such as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, in order for them to make broader connections with other networks has been seen as a vital. However, concerns were also raised that certain sections of the ‘gay scene’ could also be intolerant causing LGBTI migrants to face further possible discrimination (IARS Publications, 2018).
This Epsilon E-book presents the main findings and recommendations from the two year Erasmus + KA2 European project, as well as the outcomes from the tools that were developed as a result of the project. This includes a face-to-face and online education programme, which was piloted in all partner countries and across Europe.
The IARS International Institute is a user-led and user-focused charity with a mission to give everyone a chance to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society. Over the last 10 years, the Institute has been providing world-class and cutting-edge educational, research, policy and networking services of local, national and international significance. We are focused on empowering the most marginalised communities through direct service delivery, while enabling organisations to achieve, measure and improve their social impact.
Led by its founder and Director, Professor Dr. Theo Gavrielides and staffed with a dedicated team of experts, interns and volunteers, the IARS International Institute is known for its robust, independent, evidence-based approach to solving current social problems. We are acknowledged internationally for our expertise in justice, equality and youth, and have delivered projects in areas such as restorative justice, rehabilitation, human rights and inclusion, citizenship, public services and user-led research/ evaluation.
More information about the Institute can be found at www.iars.org.uk
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