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LGBTIQ+ persons

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ+) persons can face discrimination, persecution and violence, sometimes on a daily basis.

In certain countries, same-sex relationships are criminalized – sometimes punishable by death. Many LGBTIQ+ persons have no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere. But even in countries of asylum, they can face stigma and abuse. 

In recent decades, the number of LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers has risen, with most qualifying as "members of a particular social group" under the 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines the term ‘refugee,’ outlines their rights and sets out the legal obligations of States to protect them.

UNHCR works to try to protect all LGBTIQ+ refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people and works with partners to provide inclusive services, protect their rights and identify safe options.

What is SOGIESC? 

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What does the acronym LGBTIQ+ mean?

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A message from UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi
Watch a video message from the High Commissioner on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Global Roundtable on Protection and Solutions for LGBTIQ+ people in forced displacement

The Global Roundtable on Protection and Solutions for LGBTIQ+ people in forced displacement was organized by UNHCR and the United Nations Independent Expert on Protection Against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Held virtually over the course of 3 weeks in June 2021, it convened more than 500 people from around the world, including representatives from governments, civil society and the private sector and LGBTIQ+ people who have experienced displacement. Together they discussed experiences, policies and programmes that have worked as well as ways to implement solutions.

Read more about the roundtable and stocktaking on progress in these documents:

Three people – one man and two women, the IE SOGI, UNHCR AHC-P, and the UNHCR DIP Director sit at a table, as the AHC-P seated in the middle addresses the participants in her opening remarks. There is a poster with a rainbow that says “You are safe here” in the background.

The UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI), Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection (AHC-P), Gillian Triggs, and the UNHCR Director of the Division of International Protection (DIP), Elizabeth Tan, participated in the follow-up dialogue to the 2021 Global Roundtable on 22 June 2023 in Geneva. Ms. Triggs gave the opening remarks.

Participants pose for a group photo – 18 in-person, and 6 shown on-screen, some standing and some kneeling in front, all smiling. Participants in the front are holding up the progress pride flag.

Participants (online and in-person) in the follow-up dialogue to the 2021 Global Roundtable on 22 June 2023 in Geneva, including the co-facilitators of the thematic areas of the 2021 Roundtable from refugee-led, civil society, and other non-governmental organizations, as well as the co-conveners from IE SOGI and UNHCR, pose for a group photo.

Inspiring stories

Get to know Muhammad Adeel Iqbal, Maritza, Amani and other LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum-seekers, who left behind their homes to find the freedom to be who they truly are. 

LGBTI refugees in Canada speak out on their journey to safety and proudly show who they are.

Guatemala. Young transgender asylum-seeker finds love in exile

Meet the LGBTI refugees finding love beyond borders.