Invisible in the City: Urban Protection Gaps Facing Sexual Minorities Fleeing Persecution, HIAS LGBTI Symposium

Published: September 25, 2012

Keynote Address by
Volker Türk, Director of International Protection, UNHCR Headquarters

I am pleased to have the chance to engage with you on the important topic of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (“LGBTI”) refugees and asylum-seekers. This symposium provides a good opportunity to deepen our knowledge about the issues facing LGBTI individuals in the forced displacement context, as well as the challenges confronting those who are working to address them. I would like to thank the organisers of this conference, HIAS, one of the leading NGOs in this area and an important UNHCR partner, for this valuable initiative.

LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees face a myriad of threats, risks and vulnerabilities throughout all stages of the displacement cycle. The persecution they flee from is at times repeated in the country of asylum and also within refugee communities, making it difficult for them to access community support networks and humanitarian services. Even those responsible for providing protection and assistance may not always fully appreciate the challenges LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers face.

This being said, there is much greater awareness today within the human rights and humanitarian community about the specific protection concerns of LGBTIrefugees and asylum-seekers. The last few years have, for example, seen the emergence of a body of research on this topic. However, just as homophobia and discrimination against LGBTI persons are not new phenomena, neither is that This being said, there is much greater awareness today within the human rights and humanitarian community about the specific protection concerns of LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers. The last few years have, for example, seen the emergence of a body of research on this topic. However, just as homophobia and discrimination against LGBTI persons are not new phenomena, neither is that of LGBTI people being part of asylum flows.

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