© UNHCR/Marios Andriotis - Konstantios
“This is the first time that we can speak about who we are without being afraid”, says Miry. “Back in our country if we were to admit that we loved each other, we would have ended up in jail just for saying that. Every human should be free to live their life as they wish. For me there is no life without Farrah”.
Μiry and Farrah* have experienced fear, violence and oppression from the moment they fell in love in their home country. Farrah’s family locked her up inside their house for being lesbian. After two and half years she managed to leave and reunite with Miry to flee their home country together. During their escape they lived under constant fear of homophobic attacks. They crossed the Aegean sea to Greece, landing on Lesvos island, where they lived in the overcrowded reception center at Moria. Despite being in a government camp, the fear of being assaulted, especially at night, pursued them for months. They finally got in contact with the local team of the center Diotima, that provided legal and psychosocial support and contributed to their empowerment. Diotima team on Lesvos continues to support and stand by them under a project to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, which is run in cooperation with UNHCR with co-funding by the European Commission. The two women are now living in an apartment taking important steps towards their integration.
Farrah says she is proud for what she has achieved together with Miry, for being able to talk freely about who they are: “I know that there are a lot of women like us who are oppressed by the society, the culture and the religion in their country. My message to them is to not be afraid, to go out and live as free human beings. Life is too short to live in the shadows.”
LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people are often victims of discriminatory national laws in their countries: same-sex relationships are criminalised in more than 70 countries and six countries consider them a crime punishable by death.
They face discrimination that prevents them from going to school, finding accommodation, getting jobs or seeking the protection of the police. Discrimination and violence often occur in their own homes and communities.
Facing persecution in their home countries, LGBTIQ+ people often have no choice but to flee. But crossing a border does not always end the discrimination they experience.
On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and every day, we stand with all LGBTIQ+ people fleeing because of who they are and who they love.
*Names are changed for protection reasons