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Support Our Work


Help Empower LGBTIQ Refugees Towards a Better Future

LGBTIQ people around the world are facing extreme forms of persecution, violence, and isolation every day.  With your help, we can provide vital support to one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.  

  • Can I receive asylum or refugee status if I’m in danger because of my sexual orientation or gender identity?
    The answer is generally “yes,” but it depends where. Most Western countries recognize today that persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a valid basis for asylum or refugee status. In many other countries, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) can accord you refugee status on these grounds.
  • What kind of harm is serious enough to make me eligible for asylum?
    It is impossible to list here all the ways in which people are harmed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. If you fear execution, detention or torture because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you will likely be eligible for asylum. Persecution may also take other forms including criminal charges, arbitrary arrest, detention, forced medical treatment, physical violence, exclusion from basic services available to the general population, serious and systematic discrimination or other serious human rights abuses. Whether a particular harm or cumulative harms amount to persecution is always determined on an individual basis and will depend on the facts of your case.
  • How do I show that the persecution I face is based on my sexual orientation or gender identity?
    We usually know exactly why we’re being targeted, but proving a persecutor’s motivation can be very challenging. If you fear persecution because you have relations with people of the same sex as you, you will need to show what your persecutor said or did, and how it was tied to your sexual orientation. If you are persecuted because your behavior is considered gender-nonconforming (for example if you are a man and you dress, walk, talk or otherwise act “feminine”) you will need to show that your persecutor targeted you for these reasons. On rare occasion, you’ll have written proof like official documents of arrest. Most times, the case will be decided based on your testimony.
  • Can I request asylum in any country?
    Not all countries have independent asylum systems. Some countries (mostly in the Americas and Europe), have asylum systems which will assess your claim and grant you domestic legal status and other rights if you qualify. In much of the “global South,” refugee systems are managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). If the UNHCR recognizes you as a refugee, you will likely avoid deportation and may be resettled. In some countries, neither asylum nor refugee status is a realistic option. You should investigate the situation in the country where you are going before you depart.
  • What do I need to do before leaving my country?
    Do as much preparing as possible while you’re still at home. Once you’re away, it will be much more difficult to access documents you’ll need to show both your identity and your fear of being persecuted. You should have readily available your identity documents, passport, birth record, marriage and divorce records, and school records. Correspondence and photographs proving your claim are also helpful, as are medical records of injuries, official documentation of arrests, detention or interrogation, or any other evidence which proves harm you suffered. We recommend that you scan these documents prior to your departure and also back them up electronically. You can email these documents to yourself or upload them to an online document storage service) so you can later access them from any place. Also know your departure route and method and have a valid travel document at all times. Lastly, set aside as much cash as possible to flee and survive during your flight to safety.
  • What should I do after arriving in the country of asylum or transit?
    Apply for asylum or refugee status as soon as practical after arrival. In most countries, the authorities assume that a serious delay in applying for refugee status indicates you are not really afraid to return to your home country. We recommend that once you arrive at the destination country, you contact a legal organization that specializes in refugee or migration as well as any other organization focusing on LGBTI rights, if one exists. These organizations may assist you in the asylum or refugee status process or with other matters. We also recommend that you contact UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the UN agency charged with refugee protection. Many UNHCR offices today are LGBTI-aware, and may assist you in obtaining the information you need to apply for asylum or to assist you in other ways. In transit countries, it is almost always the UNHCR which must assist you if you wish to avoid deportation. In some countries, the UNHCR and other agencies also assist with material needs like housing.
  • Can I expect the asylum or resettlement process to be quick?
    Asylum or refugee adjudication is a long and often difficult process. The time it takes for cases to be revolved varies from several months to several years. The process is emotionally stressful. During this time, you must stay hopeful.
  • Can ORAM help with refugee/asylum cases?
    Unfortunately, ORAM does not have the authority to file your application for refugee status or asylum. We do not have any decision making power in the refugee status determination (RSD). You have to contact the competent authority (UNHCR, or local government) in order to present your application for refugee status or asylum. Local authority or UNCHR only, can provide information about your case. Please keep in mind that the RSD process could take months or even years. Please try to be patient and keep safe.
  • Can ORAM Help with resettlement?
    ORAM cannot help you resettle to another country. This is a decision made by the government of the third country that will resettle you. Please keep in mind that a positive asylum case will lead to refugee status, which is a prerequisite to resettlement in a third country. Resettlement places are extremely limited, and available for only about one in ten persons in need of resettlement. Less than 0.6 % of refugees in the world are resettled to a third country.
  • Can ORAM forward your case to UNHCR?
    No, ORAM cannot forward your case to the UNHCR or any local government. Please be careful when sharing personal information. The information about our case is personal and confidential, it should only be discussed between you and the designed asylum officer or legal counselor.
  • Can ORAM advise where to go?
    Fleeing your home country and seeking protection in another country entail serious risks. ORAM cannot determine for you whether or not you should leave your home country. This is a very serious decision that we cannot advise on remotely. You can consult our 'Seeking Help' page and select a geographical area of your interest to verify the asylum resources available. On the session “Asylum Information” you can find some general information about seeking asylum or refugee status that might be useful to you. 
  • Can ORAM provide financial assistance?
    No, unfortunately ORAM cannot provide financial assistance to individuals. Depending on specific cases and geographical area, ORAM can refer you to organizations that may help you further.
  • Can I work for ORAM?
    Please consult the 'Join Our Team' page on our website on a regular basis to learn more about our job opportunities.
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