4 January 2016
Over in the USA, the United Nations released a global report on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ efforts to protect LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees late December.
Acknowledging the distinct vulnerabilities faced by LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees, the report highlights these as sexual abuse, lack of police protection, exclusion from access to basic services, arbitrary detention, and social and familial ostracism and exclusion. It notes that LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees are frequently subject to continued harm while in forced displacement.
Among a broad range of issues, the report found that “significant protection concerns may exist even where laws criminalising LGBTI activity and expression are non-existent or not enforced.”
“The insights of UNHCR staff globally reveal that no single mitigating factor, whether legal, social, or cultural, is fully indicative that LGBTI persons are free from persecution for the exercise of their fundamental human rights.
“Even in countries without any immediately apparent forms of legal discrimination, or where laws criminalising LGBTI identity and expression are not enforced, LGBTI persons may nonetheless be subject to hostility, violence, and discrimination.”
It also found that LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees are subject to severe social exclusion and violence in various accommodation settings in countries of asylum by both the host community and the broader community of asylum-seekers and refugees.
“While the degree of acceptance of LGBTI persons of concern was reported as very low in all accommodation settings, the lowest degrees of acceptance were noted in camp settings,” it highlights.
Aiming to fill the information gap about the situation of LGBTI persons of concern globally, and to contribute to the policy and resource development of UNHCR, other UN agencies, States, and partners in civil society, the global assessment was undertaken between July 2014 and May 2015.
The report analyses the results of a broad questionnaire administered to country and regional UNHCR operations globally and the information is to be used by the UN to identify strengths and gaps and to develop relevant training, toolkits, and other resources to support operations in protecting LGBTI people globally.
Acknowledging that it may not be entirely representational, it states that over 60% of participating offices noted that bisexual and transgender persons are not represented in the data that they reported, while almost 70% of offices indicated the same about intersex persons. While lesbian women were slightly more represented, roughly half of participating offices nonetheless noted that they were not represented at all in the reported data.