In October, the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights & International Justice hosted an event about the unique challenges faced by refugees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) and other sexual/gender minorities.
LGBTI and other sexual minorities are targeted for violence and discrimination in many countries around the world. This violence frequently increases during war and conflict, in post-conflict settings, and during political transitions. Fleeing to other countries in search of safety brings new challenges: LGBTI refugees suffer from a "double stigma" of being both sexual and/or gender minorities as well as refugees. They continue to be vulnerable to violence and exploitation, often with little legal recourse. Resettlement in countries like the U.S. is the goal of many LGBTQ+ refugees, yet this, too, is not without difficulty.
The panel featured Subhi Nahas, a Syrian refugee and the Chairman of the Board of the Spectra Project, an NGO focused on LGBTI refugees; Dr. Sarah Chynoweth, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice who recently led a multi-country study on sexual violence against male and LGBTI refugees for UNHCR; and Amy Weiss, the Director of Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay, the leading agency in the U.S. resettling LGBTI refugees.