On 23 and 24 November, UNHCR, together with local experts, organized a training for UNHCR implementing and governmental partners about the LGBTIQ+ community who are fleeing their country of origin and how to support the LGBTIQ+ individuals who are in need of international protection and are seeking asylum in BiH.
During his opening speech, UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Hugues Bissot said: “LGBTIQ+ persons represent a specifically vulnerable category in the context of the mixed movement, as many have fled persecution not only by the state from which they are fleeing but from their own families. It is important to understand that the persecution also does not stop when they leave their country of origin, as many continue to face violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in countries of transit and those where they are seeking protection.”
The first part of the training was an introduction to terminology, the history, and the domestic and international legal frameworks with the aim to enhance basic knowledge and understanding of UNHCR’s partners.
Moreover, the representatives of the partner organizations participated in an interactive role-play exercise. Statements were shared by the facilitators about certain privileges, and based on their assigned role, the participants had to take a step forward if the statement was applicable to their role. The aim of this exercise was to highlight the difference in privileges between LGBTIQ+ persons and others, and through this exercise, the participants were able to understand the challenges of LGBTIQ+ persons and how to create a safe space when supporting them or during an asylum claim registration/RSD interview.
In the afternoon, the group was split in two. One group focused on providing psychosocial support, creating a safe space, decision-making techniques, and mental health challenges of LGBTIQ+ migrants and refugees. A participant working for Bosnia and Herzegovina Women’s Initiative shared that
“This session was very interesting, and I learned a lot. The tools regarding decision-making and how to support LGBTIQ+ persons of concern are useful, and I know I will start using these techniques tomorrow”.
The session with the second group of participants was specifically focused on interviewing techniques and assessing asylum claims, creating a safe space during the interview, LGBTIQ+ claims in the asylum procedure, and reviewing certain profiles.
During the closing session, participants provided their feedback about the training. A Vaša Prava BiH lawyer mentioned that
“For me it was interesting, especially the part about the LGBTIQ+ history, which I was not familiar with before. I will continue to apply my freshly gained knowledge in theory and practice”.
This training was an important activity contributing to UNHCR’s goal to ensure adequate protection of LGBTIQ+ people who often experience violence and discrimination in their country of origin and on the move. By building the capacities of UNHCR partners, they will be able to better support and create a safe space for the LGBTIQ+ persons who are in need of international protection.