Around the world, people face abuse, arbitrary arrest, extortion, violence, severe discrimination and lack of official protection because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is true even in countries where the legal environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people is relatively progressive. Many feel compelled to flee their homes, seeking safety in another country.
Although displacement may provide an opportunity for them to express a profoundly felt personal aspect of their identity that has not been possible or allowed in their country of origin, safety and protection are often elusive in these other countries too, where LGBTI forced migrants are frequently met with unacceptable and sometimes incomprehensible treatment.
There is now a growing awareness that full rights should be extended to people whose orientation or identity is not only as a minority in society but has also often been considered taboo, unacknowledged or unaccepted. It seems that it is often impossible to divorce deeply felt social, cultural and religious attitudes from the protection of LGBTI forced migrants. Yet there has been and continues to be rapid change, with radical improvements in many contexts – especially in terms of training of asylum authorities, updating of legislation and improvement in case law.
There remain, however, significant challenges and needs, many of which are identified in the following articles. In this context, bringing LGBTI and refugee protection sectors together – one of the aims of this issue of FMR – should help lead to greater protection.
We have included a short glossary on page 63 to clarify certain terms. The authors of the articles in this FMR use different terms when referring to gender non-conforming forced migrants – such as LGBTI, LGBT and sexual minority – and we have allowed them to use the terms they themselves prefer. In addition, although the articles do not explicitly cover protection issues relating specifically to bisexual or intersex people, much of what is written here will be equally relevant for them.
We would like to thank Rachel Levitan of HIAS for her invaluable assistance as special advisor on this issue. We are also very grateful to the Arcus Foundation, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, UNHCR and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for their funding support for this issue. All our current institutional donors, including those who generously provide unearmarked funding for FMR, are listed on page 63. Thanks also to those individual readers who have donated to support FMR.
The full issue is online at www.fmreview.org/sogi in html, pdf and audio formats. It will be available online and in print in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
FMR42 Listing (expanded contents listing for this issue) is available in print and online at www.fmreview.org/sogi/FMR42listing.pdf
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Details of our forthcoming issues can be found on page 63.
With our best wishes
Marion Couldrey and Maurice Herson
Editors, Forced Migration Review