Support and acceptance of LGBT refugees
 

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posted Friday, April 20, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 16

Support and acceptance of LGBT refugees
by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

As increasing numbers of LGBT refugees flee to the United States, ORAM (the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration) has released the first-ever guide for American LGBT and accepting communities on welcoming people fleeing persecution in their home countries.

Rainbow Bridges, a 48-page guide developed in a pilot project to resettle LGBT refugees in San Francisco, offers practical step-by-step guidance on welcoming new refugees, ensuring their mental and physical well-being, and helping them find support in their new communities. It includes sample forms and a suggested code of conduct, and outlines the avenues for refugees to receive housing, employment, and federal assistance.

Rainbow Bridges is available at http://oraminternational.com/publications

'There are immediate ways those of us in the U.S. can support members of our LGBT community facing persecution overseas,' said Neil Grungras, executive director of ORAM. 'Uniting in support of Queer asylum seekers and refugees is a powerful way of building community and reversing homophobia.'

ORAM estimates the U.S. receives about 2,000 refugees a year who are fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, representing 6% of all refugees in America. Unlike other refugees, those who are LGBT or intersex often undergo the integration process alone, facing exclusion from the religious and immigrant communities that form the safety net for most newly arrived refugees and asylees.

Rainbow Bridges will help U.S. LGBT, faith-based, and welcoming communities support these refugees as they build new lives in the United States, say ORAM officials.

'LGBT refugees need a different reception for our differences and culture. If I were not Gay, I would have easily been accepted into the African-American community and offered the services I needed; instead I faced further discrimination and restricted resources,' said Buchi Miles-Tuck, a Gay asylee from Nigeria who fled after being threatened with death. 'If you have support from the LGBT community, you can get off the plane and experience how to be free in your own skin.'

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM) is the only organization focused exclusively on helping vulnerable LGBT refugees worldwide find safety and rebuild their lives in welcoming communities. ORAM increases global support for refugees and asylum seekers through advocacy and education, as well as technical assistance to people and groups interested in working with refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers. Learn more at www.oraminternational.org.



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