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LGBT asylum seekers ‘facing high levels of homelessness and discrimination’

PinkNews Staff Writer May 13, 2009
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Gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans asylum seekers are suffering from high levels of discrimination, homelessness and exploitation, a report has claimed.

The Over Not Out report, from Refugee Support, the refugee services arm of Metropolitan Support Trust (MST), suggests that support services for LGBT asylum seekers are frequently poor, resulting in individuals facing harassment or discrimination in their accommodation.

It was found that mental ill-health and prostitution were particular problems, and that many LGBT asylum seekers do not report instances of hate crime.

A gay Iranian man in his thirties told researchers: “I’m gay and these kinds of problems happen to me all the time in any shared accommodation where I go. If I want to avoid trouble I just have to go to my room, just lock myself in. And it’s not a life… Yesterday I saw a guy who has been on Section 4 support for nine years. I don’t know, it might happen to me. I cannot lock myself into my room for nine years…”

The report, launched yesterday in Westminster, recommended further training and funding for LGBT voluntary and community organisations in regards to asylum seekers, along with new requirements for landlords to protect them harassment.

It also recommended that third-party centres for reporting hate crime should develop support programmes for LGBT asylum seekers.

Paul Birtill, MST Director of Investment and Development, said: “LGBT asylum seekers are an over-looked group and little is known about them and their experiences. They can often experience added persecution and isolation due to their sexual orientation.

He added: Our research highlights the need to create tailored services, training for staff and support for this otherwise under-represented group. We sincerely hope that this report and its recommendations increase the knowledge and understanding of the issues and barriers that LGBT asylum seekers face.”

Stonewall Housing says it has seen the number of asylum seekers and refugees approaching it for advice double in the last year.

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