The leading organisation promoting integration of LGBTI refugees in the UK

While homosexuality is criminalised in 76 countries we know that LGBTI citizens populating the other 120 countries also experience persecution, exclusion, and discrimination. Some LGBTI people claim asylum in the UK on the basis of their sexual orientation, and/or their gender identity, and/or the way their body looks.

Over 1,200 LGBTI people from these countries claim asylum in the UK every year and many become refugees. MRI’s work with LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees focuses on:

1. Safe housing programme

  • On the one hand LGBTI asylum seekers are often not safe if they are placed in housing environments with people from their own home countries, or those people whose religious and cultural backgrounds hold extreme homophobic and transphobic views. Non-cisgender lesbians and gays, trans and intersex people often suffer from higher levels of violence and abuse. LGBTI asylum seekers have in the past reported being bullied and assaulted by other refugees with whom they share accommodation.
  • On the other hand, when refugee status is won, LGBTI refugees experience a rapid descent into poverty and homelessness which is the result of layers of discrimination experienced because of their refugee status, race, sexuality, gender identity, intersex status and culture. These refugees carry the pain of surviving persecution in their country of origin, a trauma detrimental to anyone’s self-esteem and confidence, and worsened by the fact that the horror appeared to have followed them to the UK with many reporting feeling unsafe around co-nationals and other heterosexual refugees.

These are some of the reasons why MRI runs safe houses dedicated solely to LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. For more information or to make a referral please email MRI’s Project Manager.

2. Social inclusion programme

This programme aims at building friendships and reducing the extreme isolation faced by both LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. It includes:

  • On-to-one support: If you want to come along for a coffee and chat, we can make an appointment for you. This service does not give legal asylum advice, although we can emotionally support you while going through the asylum process.
  • Sista Sistar: a monthly peer support group for LBT women including those who have suffered from Gender Based Violence.
  • Weather the Storm: A weekly peer support group for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. The emphasis of this group is using creative expression to overcome stigma and isolation.

For more information see this leaflet or contact MRI’s Director of Socio-Economic Inclusion.

3. Economic inclusion programme

This programme includes the delivery of: 

  • Employability Workshops: we work with various partners, including the private sector, to provide workshops around CV writing and interview skills.
  • Small Business: we offer tailored support to those LGBTI refugees who dream of setting up a small business in the UK. If you have an idea for a business, please contact us.
  • Life Coaching: we offer refugee 6 -10 life coaching sessions to reconcile life after claiming asylum. Discuss with a professional how to step forward and realise your dreams. Subject to available funding.

For more information or to make a referral please email MRI’s Project Manager.