No Place For People Like You: An Analysis of the Needs, Vulnerabilities and Experiences of LGBT Syrian Refugees

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This report is extremely relevant for humanitarian practitioners involved in refugee and displacement, CCCM, shelter and livelihoods work because it centres the voices of LGBT Syrian refugees and the challenges they face in accessing shelter, employment and feelings of safety.

Despite the ongoing immense humanitarian response to the refugee crisis emerging from the war in Syria, there is little action taken in order to specifically address the needs of refugee minorities, specifically LGBT individuals. LGBT refugees flee an existing fragile state and seek shelter in neighbouring state Lebanon only to be faced with the ongoing lack of support, discrimination, violence and vulnerability associated with not only refugee status, but also with belonging to the LGBT community. The study discusses six essential findings and provides recommendations based on these findings. The findings are as follows

  1. LGBT Syrian refugees face ‘Double Discrimination:’ they are discriminated against for their nationality and for their (perceived or actual) sexual orientation
  2. LGBT refugees in particular have limited support networks as a result of fleeing conflict; social networks and support systems are often informal (i.e. not familial) and these networks are subject to breakdown once in refugee camps or settings
  3. LGBT Syrian refugees have high mental health needs but low access to appropriate mental health resources. Many participants report poor mental health, such as feelings of loneliness, depression and extreme anxiety.
  4. The existing  support systems exclude LGBT refugees as they are primarily structured around prioritising heterosexual nuclear families.
  5. Registering with the UNHCR is critical, yet many LGBT refugees are concerned about doing so
  6. While few NGOs exist in order to address the issues faces by LGBT Syrian refugees, they commonly target developing policy rather than providing safe spaces and support networks for LGBT Syrian refugees to access safely.

The recommendations made by this study are primarily based on the notion of non-discrimination. Specific training and requirements are recommended to be put into place in NGOs and the UNHCR in order to create a space for sharing dignity and allowing all LGBT Syrian refugees to have access to safe, risk-free resources. Furthermore, the study recommends economic self-sufficiency. If individuals have access to safe workplaces they are less likely to turn to survival sex, leaving individuals open to health issues, sexual abuse and violence.

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"When business owners were asked about LGBT Syrian refugees, the theme of double discrimination was evident... 'Syrians don't speak French and they have a heavy accent which hurts the image of my store. So I would never hire a Syrian, let alone a gay one'."

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Despite the ongoing immense humanitarian response to the refugee crisis emerging from the war in Syria, there is little action taken in order to specifically address the needs of refugee minorities, specifically LGBT individuals. LGBT refugees flee an existing fragile state and seek shelter in neighbouring state Lebanon only to be faced with the ongoing lack of support, discrimination, violence and vulnerability associated with not only refugee status, but also with belonging to the LGBT community. The study discusses six essential findings and provides recommendations based on these findings. The findings are as follows

  1. LGBT Syrian refugees face ‘Double Discrimination:’ they are discriminated against for their nationality and for their (perceived or actual) sexual orientation
  2. LGBT refugees in particular have limited support networks as a result of fleeing conflict; social networks and support systems are often informal (i.e. not familial) and these networks are subject to breakdown once in refugee camps or settings
  3. LGBT Syrian refugees have high mental health needs but low access to appropriate mental health resources. Many participants report poor mental health, such as feelings of loneliness, depression and extreme anxiety.
  4. The existing  support systems exclude LGBT refugees as they are primarily structured around prioritising heterosexual nuclear families.
  5. Registering with the UNHCR is critical, yet many LGBT refugees are concerned about doing so
  6. While few NGOs exist in order to address the issues faces by LGBT Syrian refugees, they commonly target developing policy rather than providing safe spaces and support networks for LGBT Syrian refugees to access safely.

The recommendations made by this study are primarily based on the notion of non-discrimination. Specific training and requirements are recommended to be put into place in NGOs and the UNHCR in order to create a space for sharing dignity and allowing all LGBT Syrian refugees to have access to safe, risk-free resources. Furthermore, the study recommends economic self-sufficiency. If individuals have access to safe workplaces they are less likely to turn to survival sex, leaving individuals open to health issues, sexual abuse and violence.