LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers must feel safe and accepted
09 juni 2023
Screening of a Mexican film Luciernagas and panel discussion held in Sarajevo
Local community as a whole must send a message to LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers that they are welcome in BiH, safe and accepted.
Even though BiH government, civil sector and local community are giving their best to welcome LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers, there are still some challenges that we are all facing as a community.
“In the year when the humankind is marking the 75th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, when we think that a lot has been done, we are still facing certain challenges. For example, among asylum-seekers, same sex couples are not recognized as families, and are often put in different accommodations far away from each other,”
said Gabrijela Rubić, Project Manager at UNHCR’s partner Bosnia and Herzegovina Women’s Initiative (BHWI), during a panel discussion organized by BiH Pride March with support from UNHCR.
The discussion followed a screening of a Mexican film Luciernagas (Fireflies), which depicts a deeply human story about a young gay man who fled from persecution in Iran and ended up living in the limbo of exile, far from everything he knows, in the tropical port town of Veracruz, Mexico. While dealing with the distance between himself and his loved ones, he began to discover a new life, and started to integrate into the new community.
“Throughout our long-term experience working with refugees and asylum-seekers, including with LGBTIQ+ persons, we have seen many similar cases like in the film. Some scenes from the film reminded me of situations we had with refugees who thought us how to dance Salsa while we thought them how to dance Bosnian ‘kolo’,” said Rubić.
LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers feel alone in often homophobic environments. They often fear for their safety, fear from rape threats and are additionally isolated.
“We need to invest in constant education of a wider community,” said Marija Šarić, Project Manager at NGO Wings of Hope, concluding that all parts of our community have responsibility to provide hospitality to all refugees.
“The workshop that we had last year with LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers and local community, with support from UNHCR, had provided a safe environment for those people and an environment where they felt accepted. Many of them felt uncomfortable going back to their temporary accommodations afterwards. This shows that civil sector and donor community should invest additional efforts in similar activities and projects that will ensure that these people feel physically safe and accepted,” said Mirjana Gavrić, psychotherapist.