UN refugee agency seeks to protect displaced gays, lesbians as they face prejudice, violence

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) pride march. Photo: OHCHR/Joseph Smida

24 December 2015 – With lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in forced displacement facing discrimination, prejudice, violence and other hurdles as they seek asylum, the United Nations refugee agency has rolled out the most comprehensive training package of its kind globally to enhance their protection.

“The need to ensure that the rights of LGBTI people are respected has recently received increased attention and support from UN agencies, States, and the broader humanitarian and human rights community,” Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Turk says of the measures which focus on practical guidance for staff and partner organizations.

“However, despite significant progress in this effort, discrimination against LGBTI persons persists, and their international protection needs often go unmet,” he added in a news release.

“UNHCR [High Commissioner for Refugees] is committed to protecting the rights of LGBTI persons of concern, and will continue to take targeted actions to build the capacity of staff and partners to this end. The training package we have developed is a significant step in that direction.”

The programme, developed jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the United States Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration, covers relevant terminology, international law, communication, operational protection, conducting interviews, durable solutions, health, and refugee status determination.

It encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity, the particular protection risks affecting displaced LGBTI people, specific means to address them and will result in better delivery of protection to LGBTI persons of concern by UNHCR and its partners, the agency said.

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