LGBTI Persons form part of the great human caravan that sees itself forced to migrate in our world. Like millions of persons that move among different continents, they go in search of peace and the necessary and indispensable well-being in order to have a dignified life. In addition to fleeing from poverty and violence of their countries, they often have to leave their homes because they can no longer continue to live out their gender identity or their sexual orientation.

Generally, their countries of origin, with excessively conservative cultures, become a constant and lethal threat to their physical integrity and for the building of their life plan, their future.  The majority of the persons who have managed to flee, relate that they have suffered persecutions on the part of the Government, political parties and non-government agents solely because of their sexual condition or orientation. The greatest suffering that they experience is when they are obliged to leave their family, it being the family members themselves and the community in their surroundings, which exposes them to all kinds of verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuses. They suffer from generalized rejection, being pushed into forced prostitution, or forced heterosexual marriages. The majority say that they have suffered a kind of “corrective violation” and other dehumanizing interventions in their family or social surroundings, the object of which was to help them to “change” their sexual orientation.

The Convention on the Statute for Refugees of 1951, when it defines the category of refugees states: “a person who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is out-side the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”

In recent years, the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees (ACNUR) as well as some countries of asylum, has recognized that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered person (LGBT) and Intersexuals “belong to a particular social group” Since they comprise a group of persons who share a characteristic in common; they run the risk of being persecuted being that said characteristic is innate, immutable or basic to the very identity of the person, and in its turn indispensable for the exercise of their human rights.

In October of 2012, the ACNUR published some directives in which it established clearly that the status of refugee must be granted to LGBT and intersexual persons who allege a well-founded fear of being persecuted. and in the laws of asylum of the European Union, LGBT persons are recognized as belonging to a “particular social group.”

Advances have been made to improve the protection of LGBT and intersexual refugees on the global level, although still there remains a long road to travel, in the normative field as well as in the programs of humanitarian assistance. It is a reality that the world system of protection of LGBTI migrants and refugees varies noticeably.

In terms of protection of these persons, as do so many other migrants and refugees, they need an even more response committed from the international community, but they need it also from us. The humiiations that they have suffered in their countries of origin, those that the suffer during their flight toward a safer place, are a cry that goes out to all the Church and becomes a call from God, which commits us to discern the next “possible step” to offer them the experience of “feeling at home,” which is so necessary in the life of every human being.

Links to learn more:

OIM: https://publications.iom.int/books/migracion-y-poblaciones-lesbianas-gays-bisexuales-trans-e-intersexuales-lgbti

ACNUR:        https://www.acnur.org/personas-lgbti.html