legalcentrelesvos.org | 29 August 2022
Joint Letter on the Situation for LGBTQI+ Asylum Seekers in Greece
SHELTER AND SECURITY
It is agreed that a specific dedicated area for LGBTQI+ people within the camps would not be appropriate as there is a risk of further isolation and stigmatization. Nonetheless, at present Greece is failing to provide appropriate reception conditions for LGBTQI+ applicants. Currently, LGBTQI+ asylum seekers are housed with non-LGBTQI+ people (hereafter ‘mixed housing’). It was widely agreed in the focus groups that mixed housing, particularly in camps, does not allow for the applicant to feel safe or comfortable to be open with their identity. Resultantly, people who have fled their countries are still having to hide and conceal their identity at all times. The following quotes are from LGBTQI+ individuals living in mixed housing:
“You just have to hide your real self, it’s like being a shadow of yourself.”
“Hiding in my country and hiding here, it’s no difference.”
The accommodation offers no respite from the discrimination, threat or stigma, which has potentially severe mental health implications.
“[B]eing compelled to conceal one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity may also result in significant psychological and other harms.” (European Court of Human Rights)
Expecting people to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity to avoid harm is contrary to the applicants’ human rights, as recognized by the European Court of Human Rights, EU Court of Justice and the Greek Special Appeals Committee. It is therefore recommended that:
- Where the primary housing is a camp, there should be efforts to ensure that the relocation to a confidential and discreet LGBTQI+ specific housing in the local city or town is an available and accessible option.
- In cases where it is not possible to relocate LGBTQI+ individuals to specific housing, improvements within the camp setting are needed. For example, ensuring increased privacy or creating safe spaces in camp would be extremely helpful. In addition, accommodation with less people cohabiting in the same space can reduce the risk.
- Where the primary accomodation is shared housing in a town or city, it should be ensured discreet LGBTQI+ only housing should be available.