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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in the spotlight for World Refugee Day 2023



Today we celebrate #WorldRefugeeDay! Let's put the spotlight on LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers.

Imagine having to flee your own country because of being persecuted for who you are and for who you love...


Imagine reaching a foreign country and being locked up in a detention center at constant risk of being assaulted...


Imagine having to restart your life in a new country, in poverty, and at risk of being sexually exploited...


Doubly marginalized, the struggle of LGBTIQ+ refugees is an emergency that’s hidden in plain sight. In some countries, same-sex relationships are criminalized – sometimes punishable by death. Many LGBTIQ+ people have no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere. But even in countries of asylum, they can face discrimination, stigma, and abuse, sometimes on a daily basis.


Did you know about the plight of LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand? 🇹🇭


Thailand lacks a legal framework to provide legal status to refugees. Without legal status, refugees are at risk of facing criminal penalties. What’s more disheartening is the absence of legal recognition for the vibrant LGBTIQ+ community in Thailand, resulting in LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers being among the most vulnerable, marginalized groups.


Without a legal framework in place to provide them legal status, refugees are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention. When they are apprehended, LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers face discrimination and harassment in detention centers, adding to the discrimination already experienced as LGBTIQ+ individuals. Extra challenges are present for trans persons as transwomen are often placed in male cells in the detention centers.


Also, due to the lack of recognition of LGBTIQ+ family ties, LGBTIQ+ individuals' right to family reunification is violated. This is the untold refugee crisis.


The 2023 theme of World Refugee Day is “Hope away from Home. A world where refugees are always included.” The most compassionate way to support refugees in restarting their lives is to ensure they feel safe and welcomed. Discrimination or violence is the last thing they should face after fleeing conflict and persecution in their home country.


However, hope should not be reserved only for those who conform to societal norms. LGBTIQ+ refugees deserve to see a rainbow after the rain no less than anybody else. In order to guarantee safety for LGBIQ+ refugees in Thailand, we must first start with joining the fight to realize legal recognition for LGBTIQ+ individuals in Thailand, including the right to marry, the right to adopt, and gender recognition for transgender people.


#WeAreManushyan ♾️ Equal Human Beings


✊🏼On this day, Manushya Foundation stands #WithRefugees and with LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in particular as we honor them worldwide and call for their rights to be upheld! They have the right to live in safety, to be protected, and to be treated as #EqualHumanBeings with respect and dignity.


How does Manushya Foundation take action on this matter?


➡️ Read last year’s post to see how we advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers.

➡️ Check out our Joint Civil Society Shadow Report, addressing concerns of marginalized groups in Thailand, including the LGBTIQ+ community, to be heard at the international level.

➡️ Check out our blog posts How do we #FightRacism? and #FightRacism ✊ We made it! to learn more about how we successfully brought grievances of marginalized communities to Thailand's CERD Review (UN human rights review in Geneva).

➡️ Read more about the issues faced by Refugees and Asylum seekers in Thailand in our UPR Advocacy Factsheet.

Check out some of our previous work on LGBTIQ+ issues, equality, and human rights:

References:

  1. United Nations, World Refugee Day 20 June, available at: https://www.un.org/en/observances/refugee-day

  2. Human Rights Watch, #OUTLAWED “THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME”, available at: https://features.hrw.org/features/features/lgbt_laws/index.html

  3. Manushya Foundation, UPR Factsheet Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Thailand: Thailand's Third Universal Periodic Review Cycle, (September 9, 2021), available at: https://www.manushyafoundation.org/thailand-third-upr-cycle-factsheets

  4. Maja Janmyr, The 1951 Refugee Convention and Non-Signatory States: Charting a Research Agenda, International Journal of Refugee Law, Volume 33, Issue 2, Pages 188–213, (December 3, 2021), available at: https://academic.oup.com/ijrl/article/33/2/188/6448830

  5. OHCHR, UN rights experts urge more protection for LGBTI refugees, (July 1, 2019), available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2019/06/un-rights-experts-urge-more-protection-lgbti-refugees

  6. AIDS Data Hub, Great Expectations, Harsh Realities: The Plight of LGBTI+ Refugees in Thailand, An Exploratory Study, (June 2020), available at: https://www.aidsdatahub.org/sites/default/files/resource/equalaf-report-lgbti-refugees-2020.pdf




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