Learn more about LGBTIQ+ forced displacement

[note this page is under construction and will be updated further]

LGBTIQ+ people existed in all cultures and societies across history.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent human characteristics. The human rights of LGBTIQ+ people have been affirmed by the 2007 Yogyakarta principles and the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10.[i]

Yet in many contexts LGBTIQ+ persons are “under a continuous threat of human rights abuses due to discriminatory laws and hostile societal attitudes”.[ii] In 2019 there were 70 countries that criminalized consensual same-sex sexual acts and death penalty was a possibility in 11.[iii] LGBTIQ+ people are subjected to physical and sexual violence, harassment and exploitation. Sexual violence and forced marriages are often used as a coercive tool to ‘normalize’ LGBTIQ+ women’s sexuality and avoid familial shame.[iv] In countries where there are no laws prohibiting same-sex relationships, discrimination in all areas of private and public lives persist. This significantly limits education and employment opportunities for LGBTIQ+ persons, drives people into poverty and homelessness and forces them to engage in survival sex.[v]

LGBTIQ+ people who have been forcibly displaced are entitled to live their lives to the fullest potential as who they are with dignity.


We are using a term ‘LGBTIQ+ people/person who have experienced forced displacement’ to encompass a number of scenarios.

This term includes those individuals:

  • who have been subjected to anti-LGBTIQ+ persecution and have been resettled;
  • those who have been resettled for other protection reasons and are LGBTIQ+ persons (this would include young people who came with their families);
  • those LGBTIQ+ individuals who claimed asylum upon arrival to their countries of destination;
  • those LGBTIQ+ individuals who found other pathways to leave their countries of origin (eg. international students); and
  • those who have been trafficked or are undocumented.

Diversity within

LGBTIQ+ people who have experienced forced displacement come from different cultural, ethnic, language and religious backgrounds, may have disabilities (including acquired in the process of asylum), may belong to indigenous groups, are of different ages and/or socio-economic background.

As LGBTIQ+ is an umbrella term, experiences of specific groups of people such as lesbian women or trans men will also be distinct. It is, thus, essential that policy and practice are taking intersectional and client-centred approaches. 

You can now access free online training module on LGBTIQ+ displacement and settlement. Click here to pass the training.

Existing resources to learn more

1. Queer Displacements Conference report, 2019. Read it here.

2. Queer Sisterhood Cartoon and a brochure. Access it here.

3. Mejia-Canales, D. & Leonard, W. (2016). ‘Something for them: Meeting the support needs of same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) young people who are recently arrived, refugees or asylum seekers. Monograph Series No. 107. La Trobe University. Melbourne. Read it here.

4. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2015). Protecting Persons with Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities: A Global Report on UNHCR’s Efforts to Protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Asylum-Seekers and Refugees. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Geneva. Read it here.

5. Noto, O., Leonard, W. & Mitchell, A. (2014). “Nothing for them”: Understanding the support needs of LGBT young people from refugee and newly arrived backgrounds. Monograph Series No. 94. The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. La Trobe University. Melbourne. Read it here.

6. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2013) Resettlement Assessment Tool: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Refugees. Read it here.

7. Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration. (2012). Rainbow Bridges: A Community Guide to Rebuilding the Lives of LGBTI Refugees and Asylees. ORAM. San Francisco. Read it here.

[i] https://yogyakartaprinciples.org

[ii] UNHCR (2013) Resettlement Assessment Tool: Lesbian, gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Refugees. 

[iii] ILGA World: Lucas Ramon Mendos, State-Sponsored Homophobia 2019: Global Legislation Overview Update (Geneva; ILGA, December 2019) https://ilga.org/state-sponsored-homophobia-report

[iv] Queer Sisterhood Project (2019) Being Queer and Refugee, ed. by Dixson T., Dixson, R.; available at https://fdpn.org.au/projects/queer-sisterhood/

[v] Ibid no vii; ORAM (2012) Rainbow Bridges: A community guide to rebuilding the lives of LGBTI refugees and asylees, available at https://oramrefugee.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/oram-rainbow-bridges-2012-web.pdf

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