Micro Rainbow and Rainbow Migration firmly condemn this government’s barbaric proposal to house people seeking asylum on barges.
We support Refugee Council’s open letter to Bibby Marine and agree that barges are unsuitable for housing people seeking asylum in the UK. Furthermore, the doubling of the capacity of the barge, and the movement restrictions placed on the people housed there resemble immigration detention, where LGBTQI+ people are particularly at risk of harm. The overcrowded accommodation and the restrictions on movement for the people living at the Bibby Stockholm will replicate many of the conditions of incarceration.
Housing people in prison-like conditions such as those proposed on the Bibby Stockholm risk further traumatising people who are seeking safety and protection. The risks of forced isolation and prison conditions is well known: it is a key facet of Australian border policy. This policy has a detrimental impact on both mental and physical health, and the UK Government knows this. The situation will be even more dire for LGBTQI+ people.
We know that LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum are particularly at risk of harm and can face serious issues when forced to live in overcrowded conditions. Like in detention, they are likely to experience discrimination and harassment from other people seeking asylum who can hold LGBTQI-phobic views. Trans people can be at even greater risk of abuse and may be forced to hide their gender identity.
Rainbow Migration’s 2023 pilot study into LGBTQI+ experiences of detention underlines the fact that detention-like conditions are unsafe for LGBTQI+ people. It is clear that the conditions on the Bibby Stockholm will differ from immigration detention in name only, and are likely to put LGBTQI+ people at increased risk of harm.
Instead, a holistic and community-based response is better suited to safeguarding LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. Micro Rainbow’s tested and successful holistic approach to integration incorporates housing, social inclusion and moving-on support, and it is a viable and empathetic alternative. Micro Rainbow’s housing is safe, inclusive for LGBTQI+ people, and integrated into the community. People seeking asylum staying in Micro Rainbow housing are not only safe to express their LGBTQI+ identity but also better able to establish community links and networks of support. They can openly and safely contribute to their local communities.
Micro Rainbow and Rainbow Migration ask that this government commits to the safeguarding of LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, and guarantees that LGBTQI+ people will not be housed on barges.
For further information or images please contact: Rosalind Duignan-Pearson, Communications Manager, Micro Rainbow, [email protected]
About Micro Rainbow
Founded in 2012 Micro Rainbow is the leading not for profit organisation in the UK supporting the integration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people who flee persecution and reach the UK in search of safety. Micro Rainbow’s holistic approach to integration is based on three pillars: safe housing, social inclusion, and employability support. These programmes ensure that LGBTQI refugees are not only safe but also able to live fulfilling, independent lives. Micro Rainbow has won several awards for innovation and as a top social enterprise and is recognised for creating the first ever national safe housing scheme for LGBTQI people fleeing persecution, with a current capacity of 30,000 bed-nights a year. Find out more at: www.microrainbow.org
About Rainbow Migration
Rainbow Migration provides practical and emotional support for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, to help improve their confidence and self-esteem and reduce isolation. We provide specialist legal information and advice, and campaign to improve the treatment of people seeking asylum. We also provide legal advice and information to LGBTQI+ people who want to live in the UK with their partners. We are also currently running No Pride In Detention, a campaign to end LGBTQI+ people being detained in immigration detention. Our vision is a world where LGBTQI+ people can settle safely in the UK and lead fulfilling lives. Find out more about us at www.rainbowmigration.org.uk/