Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted a report on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU, paying particular attention to the situation of LGBTI asylum seekers.
The report is a response to the near invisibility of female refugees and their concerns in the wake of the steep increase of asylum seekers arriving in Europe. A significant proportion of the refugees and asylum seekers are LGBTI who often face specific challenges, which are addressed in the report.
In response to the increased number of asylum seekers, the Commission has proposed establishing a common list of safe countries of origin, which would make it easier to send back asylum seekers coming from these countries. This list would include all Balkan states and, somewhat surprisingly, Turkey.
However, the Parliament recognized that LGBTI people may be subjected to abuse, even in countries which are considered ‘safe’. As such, it concludes, they have a legitimate request for protection.
Furthermore, the Parliament highlighted that there is a need for adequate training on the needs of LGBTI people for asylum professionals, including interviewers and interpreters.
Lastly, the Parliament pointed out that violence against LGBTI individual in reception facilities is very common and accordingly stresses the need for LGBTI-sensitive reception facilities across all Member States.
Malin Björk MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, said: “I am very glad the Parliament has agreed that everyone fleeing a situation of persecution and oppression based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to asylum in the EU.”
“Any initiative to fast-track the asylum procedures, such as a ‘safe country’ list, increases the risk that those people in need, including LGBTI people, are not recognised. It is important we keep on flagging this at the Commission and Member States to ensure that refugees facing persecution, will remain eligible for asylum.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, added: “Coming from situations where it’s all but safe to be LGBTI, it is extremely important that LGBTI people can feel truly safe in asylum centres. Unfortunately, many LGBTI people face particularly difficult situations: they may be bullied or fall victim to violence.”
“As the Parliament has stated, it’s vital that reception facilities ensure full safety for LGBTI refugees. If this cannot be guaranteed, an individual solution, which may mean individual housing, should be found.”