New web portal to help rising numbers of LGBTI refugees fighting for safety

New web portal to help rising numbers of LGBTI refugees fighting for safety
http://portal.oraminternational.org/?utm_source=World+Refugee+Day+-+Portal+Launch+%28Non-Press%29&utm_campaign=World+Refugee+Day&utm_medium=email

On World Refugee Day (20 June 2014), ORAM – the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration – is today launching a new online portal to help official bodies and NGOs share approaches to protecting LGBTI refugees and to adopt best practices in the face of rising persecution of LGBTI people globally.

The LGBTI Refugee Project Portal showcases projects and approaches that enhance the protection of LGBTI forced migrants in the areas of refugee status determination, policy development and research, practical protection measures and staff development. ORAM is encouraging posting of projects that will lead to better treatment of LGBTI refugees across the globe.

ORAM says the recent upsurge in the marginalization and persecution of millions of LGBTI people across the world has led to the number of refugee claims rising sharply, and yet only a small percentage are disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause, for fear of further persecution or rejection. Even when the refugees do come out, many refugee agencies are not handling their claims properly or sensitively. 

In addition to launching the portal, ORAM is calling on the UNHCR to maintain and release statistics about the LGBTI refugees within its protection mandate. It says that only with accurate data can the crisis be appropriately addressed. ORAM is also calling on all government and intergovernmental bodies to ensure the appropriate training of their staff, to recognize genuine LGBTI asylum claims and to better understand what it means to be an LGBTI refugee, to help ensure they are sensitively and appropriately treated. 

Some jurisdictions deny bona fide LGBT refugee claims, telling applicants to go home and conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity. In November 2013, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that this practice is no longer acceptable. ORAM points out there is an urgent need for all bodies processing asylum claims to undergo training that is in-depth and nuanced to convey the complex nature of LGBTI identities and claims. In the past year, ORAM has trained hundreds of refugee professionals including UNHCR, at tens of locations. The organization is working with Columbia University with US State Department funding to assess the impact of LGBT training on refugee professionals.

Neil Grungras, founder and Executive Director of ORAM, said: “LGBTI people are among the most persecuted individuals in the world. We encourage all agencies and NGOs working with refugees to share examples of good practice through our portal in the hope it will help others to improve approaches and lead to safety for the many LGBTI refugees currently fighting for their survival.”

For more information on the LGBTI Refugee Project Portal, visit: http://portal.oraminternational.org/

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