Lesbian attending Amsterdam Pride denied shelter after nuns found out she was gay
An Ugandan asylum seeker was kicked out of a shelter run by the Roman Catholic group Missionaries of Charity in Amsterdam after nuns found out she was gay.
Justine—as the woman was identified in the media—arrived at the shelter on Friday. That day, she also left the shelter to help decorate the boat of the left-wing green party GroenLinks, which she was planning to board on Saturday to take part in the city’s world-famous canal parade.
Justine fled Uganda last year because of the anti-LGBT+ persecution in the country, where being gay is illegal, and applied for asylum in the Netherlands. She was recently denied a resident permit—on the grounds that she was “not lesbian enough”, according to Groenlinks—but she was planning on working a new application with her lawyer.
The 24-hour shelter provided by the nuns is one of the few places where people in Justine’s situation can find temporary accommodation. But when she told the nuns where she had been that day, she was told she could no longer stay in the shelter.
“She was told that her presence would be dangerous for the other women and children who slept there. Unless she denied being a lesbian in the future, she had to leave,” Savannah Koolen, a board member of Rozelinks, Groenlinks’ LGBT+ branch, told the Dutch daily newspaper Het Parool.
Koolen told PinkNews that RozeLinks has found a new safe place for Justine to stay for the next few months but, to protest the religious group’s homophobic attitudes, the group is staging a lesbian “kiss-in” on Wednesday (August 8).
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“GroenLinks Amsterdam is shocked that, during the Pride week, a vulnerable lesbian woman is discriminated in this way. We want to show that we do not accept these expressions of discrimination in Amsterdam [and] that we are a tolerant city, where everyone is free to be themselves,” the group wrote in the description of the event on Facebook.
RozeLinks also set up a crowdfunding page to pay for the travel costs of Justine’s friends residing elsewhere in the Netherlands who wanted to join protest in Amsterdam. A friend of Justine, Hidaya, is due to address the crowd on Wednesday.
The “kiss-in” will take place in front of the shelter, located just a short walk away from the monument honouring victims of homophobia. The group will provide colourful chalks to decorate the pavement in front of the shelter with a rainbow.
Koolen said they will also support Justine in reporting the discriminatory incident to the police. The authorities told local TV channel AT5 that it doesn’t matter what Justine’s immigration status is for the purposes of the report.
The Missionaries of Charity are a charitable group founded by the late Mother Teresa in 1950 that now operates in more than 130 countries around the world. The charity has not offered comment on the issue.