New guidebook tells how to welcome LGBTI refugees

Cover of "Rainbow Bridges" manual. (Photo courtesy of ORAM)

Cover of the "Rainbow Bridges" manual. (Photo courtesy of ORAM)

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees, asylees, and asylum
seekers are among the most vulnerable people in the United States today.”

That statement introduces a new manual for American organizations, individuals and communities that set out to help LGBTI refugees.

“Unlike most people who flee their homes for safety, these individuals often undergo the integration process almost entirely alone. They are rarely supported by their families or fellow expatriates,” according to the manual, recently published by ORAM, the San Francisco-based Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration.

“Because of their nonconforming sexual orientation or gender identity, they are often excluded from the religious and immigrant communities that form the social safety net for most newly arrived refugees and asylees. Without a support network, these LGBTI refugees struggle to find their way through a complex maze of employment, housing, and social service systems. Attaining stability in their adopted new country is extraordinarily challenging for them,” states the 48-page manual, which is titled  “Rainbow Bridges: A Community Guide to Rebuilding the Lives of LGBTI Refugees and Asylees.”

“Rainbow Bridges” offers practical step-by-step guidance on welcoming new refugees, ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing, and helping them find support in their new communities, ORAM said. The 48-page publication includes sample forms, a suggested code of conduct, and outlines the avenues for refugees to receive housing, employment, and federal assistance. 

The manual is downloadable for free in pdf format from ORAM.

In a press release, ORAM estimated that the US receives about 2,000 refugees a year who are fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, representing 6 percent of all refugees in America.

Buchi Miles-Tuck, a gay asylee from Nigeria who fled two days before he reportedly was going to be killed, emphasizes the importance of support such as ORAM describes. Much of Nigeria is homophobic and the country’s laws provide for a 14-year prison term for homosexual activities.

Miles-Tuck said, “LGBT refugees need a different reception for our differences and culture. If I were not gay, I would have easily been accepted into the African-American community and offered the services I needed; instead I faced further discrimination and restricted resources. If you have support from the LGBT community, you can get off the plane and experience how to be free in your own skin.”

5 thoughts on “New guidebook tells how to welcome LGBTI refugees

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