Everyone will at some point in their life move from one place to another. Some people even cross international borders – to find work, get a better education, or reunite with their families. In many cases however, moving is not a choice, but the only way to escape violence, discrimination and marginalization.
For many lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people, leaving their communities in search of a safer and more welcoming place to call home is the only way to find a job, get access to healthcare or find safety from poverty, family rejection, criminalization, threats and violence. For some, this means moving from a small town to the big city. For others it can require moving from one part of the world to another – surviving a dangerous journey and staggering odds in order to try to find a place where they can live openly as their true selves.
Often, discrimination doesn’t stop upon arrival at their destination. Many continue to face prejudice, harassment and violence both based on where they were born as well as based on their sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or sex characteristics. Trans and nonbinary people are particularly at risk. Even everyday acts that most of us take for granted, such as going to the doctor or opening a bank account, can be dangerous for those who are undocumented because they can lead to deportation or imprisonment. LGBTIQ+ migrants are also more likely to experience homelessness, forced to pay high rent or live in poor conditions. Unable to find a community where they are truly accepted, they often struggle with loneliness, helplessness and depression. They are also frequently compelled to take jobs with few protections and poor working conditions. For those who also face marginalization for other reasons, such as their race, ethnicity, age, gender, disabilities, religion or other characteristics, the situation can get even more precarious.
Every human being deserves the freedom to simply be themselves, without facing violence and discrimination. Together we can create a future free from prejudice, where everyone truly belongs – no matter who they are, whom they love or where they come from.
Help us spread the word if you agree:
UN Free & Equal and IOM: Apollo’s story
Be the change:
- Educate yourself on the experiences of LGBTIQ+ people on the move, their issues and concerns.
- Speak out when you see any form of stigma, discrimination or violence against migrants and against LGBTIQ+ people, regardless of where they come from.
- Volunteer in local organizations or shelters that serve LGBTIQ+ migrants.
- Contribute to positive narratives around migrants and migration by sharing our online and social media content along with the hashtag #StandUp4Migrants.
UN Free & Equal and IOM: Jen’s story
- Identify the needs of LGBTIQ+ migrants and give them the support and assistance they truly need.
- Inform LGBTIQ+ migrants about their rights and how they can exercise them.
- Recognize persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics as a valid basis for claiming asylum.
- Sensitize and train immigration personnel and other government actors on the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people, including ensuring respectful communication and avoiding stereotypes and intrusive, humiliating and inappropriate questions and procedures.
- Put in place firewalls – a clear distinction between public service providers and immigration enforcement authorities – to ensure that undocumented LGBTIQ+ migrants can exercise their rights, including to health, education, housing and decent work.
- Avoid rhetoric and terminology that reinforce harmful narratives against migrants, including LGBTIQ+ migrants. Ensure that measures are put in place to prevent, monitor and address stigma and incidents of racism, xenophobia, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and hold those responsible to account.
- Ensure the continuity, accessibility and quality of healthcare services for LGBTIQ+ migrants, free from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex characteristics or migration status.
- Ensure safe shelters. Shelter staff must guarantee the security of those accommodated in shelters, regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sex characteristics or migration status, and should provide reasonable accommodation including suitable sanitation and sleeping facilities.
- Overcome unnecessary administrative barriers that prevent LGBTIQ+ people, including migrants, from realizing their rights.
UN Free & Equal and IOM: Muhab’s story