Homosexuality and identifying as LGBTQ+ is still illegal, punishable, or seen as immoral in many countries around the world. As a result, there are people fleeing their homes and countries to seek a place where they can live as who they are in peace and safety.
Whilst the UK has taken many legal and social steps to ensure equality for the LGBTQ+ equality, the treatment of LGBTQ+ migrants and refugees in this country is often criticised. Many face long and distressing processes to ‘prove’ that they have had to flee their homes because of their sexuality and face abuse or even murder if they return home.
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) is inspired by Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group from the 1980s and seeks to help migrants and refugees. They state that migrants are demonised by the media, are criminalised by the state, and often face violence and oppression here in the UK. They argue it was once LGBT people who were the “illegals”, and now it is migrants who are branded with this label and so they will stand in solidarity with the message that no one is illegal.
“Have I seen Real Change for LGBTQI people seeking asylum in the UK? In nearly 2 decades as an LGBT person seeking asylum I have yet to see any real change. I still see disbelief hate and abuse within the very system that speaks of having a proud history of granting those who need protection ... The LGBT community within the UK has without a doubt moved forward and will continue to evolve until we are satisfied that we truly are equal. Unfortunately the Asylum System still has a long way to go before Real Change is seen.”
— Shingai Mabhumbo
“In nearly two decades as an LGBT person seeking asylum I have yet to see any real change.”
— Shingai Mabhumbo
In February 2019 as part of LGBT History Month, The Peace Museum partnered with Kala Sangam to present This Is Who I Am, by theatre company ice&fire. It features verbatim testimonies from LGBT+ refugees about their experiences in their own country and on in arrival in the UK and the challenges they face. It was supported by organisations whose mission is to support these LGBTQ+ refugees, including LGSMigrants, African Rainbow Family, and locally in Bradford, Equity Rainbow.
In post-conflict areas, whilst a degree of peace may come for some, LGBTQ+ people are often the victims of continuing violence and oppression. After Apartheid in South Africa, corrective rape has been used against lesbians. In Northern Ireland, there has been a rise in reported homophobic attacks since the Good Friday agreement.
Should LGBTQ+ rights be included in peace agreements?