LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees Face Double Pressure!

Source: “Mülteci ve Sığınmacı LGBT’lere Çifte Baskı!” (“LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees Face Double Pressure!”), Kaos GL, 28 March 2013,

Lawyer Hayriye Kara, Kaos GL’s Refugee Rights Coordinator, talks about the troubles LGBT asylum seekers and refugees face in Turkey.

LGBT asylum seekers and refugees, who are mostly from Iran, enter Turkey to escape torture, bad treatment, and danger to their lives because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Once they enter Turkey, they are placed in satellite cities and are doubly discriminated against because they are refugees and LGBTs. LGBTs face homophobia, physical and psychological harassment and violence from the police and the local population. Lawyer Hayriye Kara, Kaos GL’s Refugee Rights Coordinator, stated that they have been assisting refugees since 2007 and said, “LGBT refugees are located in small satellite cities where they are forced to become visible. Because of this, LGBTs face violence from the local population as well as the other refugees. We have submitted a joint letter to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey; it is still being discussed.”

“We give legal and social support”

Kara said that they give legal and social support to refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey and stated, “When they authorize us, we follow their United Nations files. We try to solve the problems they face in the cities where they reside in Turkey. For the past year, we have been visiting the satellite cities they are placed in to conduct one-on-one interviews. Based on these interviews, we share the problems they face regarding their files or daily lives with the United Nations and try to come up with solutions.”

“The United Nations evaluates LGBTs as a sensitive group”

Kara stated that LGBTs face discrimination by hospital employees when they go to seek help for their medical problems and said, “We are not making the generalization that all police and all employees are responsible for this behavior. But in general, both in civil and formal arenas, we encounter homophobia and transphobia. The United Nations evaluates LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey as a sensitive group. Therefore, the process is speedier.” Kara further stated that Kaos GL tries to help with the cases and “our work as human rights defenders is to continue to solve these problems. The opinions of refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey guide us in developing our policies on asylum.”

“We meet with asylum seekers and refugees to discuss solutions”

Kara reiterated the fact that Kaos GL organizes the annual “International Meetings Against Homophobia” and said, “At this meeting, we meet with LGBT asylum seekers and refugees from four different satellite cities to discuss their problems and the solutions. What kind of solutions do they have for their problems? After these conversations, we meet with other NGOs who work on refugee rights at the Refugee Workshop co-hosted by Amnesty International.

“LGBTs are ignored”

Kara said, “the term ‘sexual orientation’ was removed from the Draft Law on Foreigners and International Protection. In the first version of the draft, Article 4 on discrimination included the ban on discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation,’ however, it was later removed.” Kara pointed out the fact that LGBTs are ignored. Kara said, “The law is being discussed right now. But we do not know when the law on discrimination will be put into force.”

“There are 200 cases awaiting placement”

Kara said that there is no specific arrangement regarding asylum seekers and refugees and because of this deficiency, the issue is being managed with bylaws. Kara said, “We call them the 1994 bylaws. There has been no consistency in application. We see divergent applications of the bylaws in the satellite cities. When people were sent to the satellite cities, there was no help in finding homes or support. Many people are sent to the cities and forced to look after themselves. This amounts to rights violations.” Kara said she cannot give a specific number and stated, “I can give the number of applications of discriminatory violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Last April, there were 200 LGBT asylum seeker and refugee case files waiting for placement. But now with the newcomers, there must be more than 250 LGBT asylum seekers and refugees waiting for placement.”

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