Whilst the plight of asylum seekers has been well documented in recent months, specific demographics within the overwhelming numbers of people escaping Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria face specific advantages and disadvantages from the general population of people fleeing violence and repression.
One such group is the LGBT community, who are primarily seeking refuge in Europe and North America.
A 2012 report by ORAM (the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration), says that protection for LGBT individuals seeking asylum is particularly poor in so called “transit” countries.
This protection appears to be greatly needed however.
“Despite many advances, the widespread violence and discrimination against LGBTI refugees often means that these individuals face severe obstacles to protection and long-term safety in countries of first asylum,” The report reads. “These individuals commonly undergo regular and often violent harassment from the local communities and refugee populations”.
The Washington Post recently reported on just such an instance that took place in Dresden, Germany.
When a young Syrian man revealed to another the meaning of his rainbow flag, he was subject to verbal and physical abuse from fellow asylum seekers. In an even more severe case, a transgender woman and her friends were raped and tortured by Jordanian police.
In response to the particularly vulnerable condition of LGBT asylum seekers, and calls from the UN, the Canadian government announced that it will consider gay men a priority for resettlement, due to the high likelihood of their safety being compromised by ISIS, the Assad regime, and fellow refugees.
This may result in single heterosexual men being much lower priority than other asylum seekers, as suggested by Amnesty International.
A similar move was made in the United States, when the State Department expanded its protections for LGBT couples by allowing already qualified refugees to bring their same sex partner, even if they are not legally married.
Despite these and other moves by governments and NGOs, the sheer volume of asylum seekers from the ongoing violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria all but guarantee that minority groups, including the LGBT community, will continue to bear a particularly heavy burden.
Cover Photo Credit: vl04 /Flickr (CC by 2.0)