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UNHCR’s Grandi: LGBTIQ+ refugees often struggle to find peace and safety

Speeches and statements

UNHCR’s Grandi: LGBTIQ+ refugees often struggle to find peace and safety

17 May 2023

GENEVA – Today we observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia with its important theme: Together Always: United in Diversity. It is a day when we at UNHCR acknowledge the people who are forced to flee persecution, stigma and discrimination because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.

There are still far too many countries around the world that criminalise same-sex relationships, discriminate against and marginalise LGBTIQ+ individuals. Legislative efforts and hatred spewed by some politicians generate not just a sense of uncertainty and fear, but also very real threats to the LGBTIQ+ communities, and can even result in forced displacement when people who are targeted or affected are compelled to flee, often across borders to another country.

LGBTIQ+ individuals fleeing violence and persecution need asylum and international protection. Unfortunately, some States still do not recognize this. And even for those who flee, crossing a border does not always end the danger. Many LGBTIQ+ people continue to face similar challenges, including discrimination and violations of their human rights, in their country of asylum. This is their painful reality and why we must do much more to help them.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and yet we must continue to remind governments, communities and individuals that, as Article 1 states, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community must stop.

Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution, including those who identify as LGBTIQ+, because seeking asylum is also a human right which sits at the heart of the 1951 Convention on Refugees and at the centre of the work of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

UNHCR remains committed to protecting and addressing the specific needs and risks that LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers face every day. We have made significant progress against several key commitments outlined at the 2021 Global Roundtable on Protection and Solutions for LGBTIQ+ People in Forced Displacement, building on alliances that were forged then. But we are also conscious that more must be done.

UNHCR recognizes and applauds the particular dedication and courage of the local LGBTIQ+ organizations we work with, including those that are refugee-led, for their fearless work in the protection and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people. We will continue to support their work and cooperate with them on the ground to better protect and assist LGBTIQ+ people in displacement.

And we will continue to do our utmost to ensure that every LGBTIQ+ person who has been forced to flee can enjoy their rights and find peace and security wherever they are.