UNHCR Resource Update: The Global Report “Protecting Persons with Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities”

This is the UNHCR’s first global overview of progress made in protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex (LGBTI) asylum-seekers, refugees, and others of concern. The report is a significant contribution to UNHCR’s efforts to fill the information gap about the situation of LGBTI persons of concern to the Office, and it offers a blueprint for UNHCR to bolster LGBTI-inclusive protection programming. The key findings presented in the report are derived from an extensive review of protection activities undertaken by 106 UNHCR operations around the world, covering the following thematic areas: legal, cultural, and social context; identification and outreach activities; asylum and displacement conditions; refugee status determination and durable solutions; training on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity; and, operational guidelines and advocacy efforts. The report identifies strengths and gaps in the protection of LGBTI persons of concern to UNHCR and concludes by proposing a way forward, which may be of broad interest to a diverse group of stakeholders, including UNHCR staff, other agencies of the United Nations, and governmental and non-governmental partners. Among the conclusions of the report, the following emerge as particularly critical areas for future attention both by UNHCR staff and other relevant stakeholders:

a. Train UNHCR and partner staff on sexual orientation and gender identity and the particular protection risks that displaced LGBTI people face, and specific means to address them.
b. Promote the creation of “safe spaces”, where persons of concern feel supported to express their sexual orientation and gender identity.
c. Develop partnerships with national and international LGBTI organisations and networks and with LGBTI people from refugee and host communities.
d. Explore possibilities for systematic data collection on asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
e. Establish systems for identifying LGBTI refugees in need of resettlement, and ensure that LGBTI refugees are included in discussions with resettlement countries.

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