LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

ILGA-Europe declaration of solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers

On the occasion of the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference 2015 in Athens, we, a gathering of 450 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) activists and allies from across Europe, issue this declaration in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection.

Ongoing wars, conflicts and instability are increasingly threatening people’s rights and safety. As a result, refugees and asylum seekers, including LGBTI refugees, need protection. In these times, support and solidarity are needed to ensure that all refugees and asylum seekers in Europe are welcomed with political and legal justice and equality.

Many LGBTI people flee persecution on account of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics and seek protection abroad.  Across the world, LGBTI people experience serious human rights abuses and other forms of persecution on a daily basis. 10 of millions of LGBTI people live in countries where same-sex intimacy and cross-dressing are criminalised; many more face increasingly repressive legislation.

In reception and detention centres, LGBTI asylum seekers face complex threats and vulnerabilities. These include arbitrary and inconsistent decision-making, violence and discrimination.

The European LGBTI movement shares a vision of a world where full equality, dignity, freedoms and full enjoyment of human rights are protected and ensured for everyone. Collectively, we call for access to fair, sensitive and thorough procedures to determine eligibility for refugee protection, wherever it is sought.

We recall that the needs and experiences of LGBTI people need to be protected throughout this process. Therefore, we are concerned that measures such as accelerated procedures, the use of safe country of origin lists and immigration detention, are increasingly being discussed. These measures have a disproportionately negative effect on LGBTI people.

We strongly urge the European Union and national governments to immediately start addressing these issues and to provide more safe and legal routes, to rapidly strengthen adequate reception capacity, and to commit to fix the failing asylum system.

All refugees and asylum seekers must be protected and treated with dignity and respect. We stand firm to uphold the fundamental human rights of refugees.