In September 2018 Micro Rainbow International opened the fifth safe home for LGBTI asylum seekers in the UK. This follows a successful pilot launched in October 2017. MRI now operates three safe homes in the London area and two in Birmingham and the West Midlands. In total we can provide up to 7,300 bed-nights a year.
Why is safe housing important?
LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees are victims of persecution and violence because of their sexual or gender identity or intersex status. They come from countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe where homo/trans sexuality is criminalised. They have been subjected to harassment, imprisonment, forced marriage, rape, trafficking, gender-based and sexuality-based violence, and domestic violence.
In the UK, the stress of reliving their traumatic experiences whilst claiming asylum, together with the discrimination they experience as refugees, has increased their low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees continue to suffer from the trauma caused by their experiences in their home countries, as well as face additional challenges in the UK.
One of these challenges is homelessness. LGBTI asylum seekers are often not safe when placed in housing with people from their home countries, or those people whose religious and cultural backgrounds hold extreme homophobic and transphobic views. They have reported being bullied and assaulted by other refugees with whom they share accommodation. They often prefer homelessness to facing this violence which exposes them to further situations of abuse and violence. This is why MRI’s safe housing project is so critical. In MRI’s experience the abuse that LGBTI asylum seekers face in accommodation pushes many to become homeless at a point in life when they need as much support as possible to secure their right to stay in the UK and be safe. This innovative project has the support of the Home Office and we look forward to engaging with them even further to ensure safety of LGBTI asylum seekers.
What you can do to help
You can support homeless LGBTI asylum seekers in two practical ways:
- You can help us furnish their safe homes. We need everything from kettles to duvets to cutlery. We have created an Amazon Wish List where you can browse the items we need and choose which one you would like to send us. Most items are less than £15 and some are less than £5. This is a very practical way to relieve the poverty of LGBTI asylum seekers and to make them feel supported by their new communities.
- You can become an ally by making a regular donation. You can choose an ally plan that starts from as little as £5. If you choose to become an ally this is what you will achieve:
Whichever way you choose to support us (even if you can’t do it right now) we feel privileged to be able to rely on your solidarity. Our work makes much more sense when we know that we are supported by our community: THANK YOU!