LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Members of the European Parliament focus LGBTI asylum seekers

On 12 April, ILGA-Europe are co-organising an event with the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup of the European Parliament. The event will focus on LGBTI asylum seekers in the current refugee management crisis in Europe.

A significant number of people applying for asylum in EU Member States are LGBTI people. Many of whom are at risk of persecution precisely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Moreover, LGBTI asylum seekers are often at risk of additional danger during their journey and upon arrival in the country where they seek asylum, which can take the form of harassment, exclusion, sexual violence, or other forms of violence.

In 2015, the numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Europe increased exponentially. Many reports showed how minorities, including LGBTI people, were being specifically targeted in ongoing conflicts. While the current refugee situation is not unprecedented, Member States have reacted by closing their borders and often leaving refugees in very difficult situations.

The current political climate in the EU and most of its Member States is one of rejection and fear, calling for measures to stop “these people” from coming without addressing the root causes. In this context, the European Commission proposed to adopt an EU-wide list of “safe countries of origin” and to collaborate intensely with Turkey. The Dutch government and the European Commission even proposed to qualify Turkey as a “safe third country” and send thousands of people back from Greece to Turkey by boat.

As explained in ILGA-Europe’s Briefing paper of February 2016, these measures will not provide a durable solution and would even put millions of people at risk in our neighbouring countries. Moreover, they will have a disproportionate negative impact on LGBTI asylum seekers, both in the Member States and outside.