One of the groups that flee from oppression and persecution are LGBTQ people. But when they come here they often lack social meeting places, guidance and information about their rights. RFSL support them through the network Newcomers and legal counsels.
Newcomers is a network within RFSL for asylum seekers and newly arrived LGBTQ people. The 16 Newcomers organisations offer activities for their members with a common goal: to strengthen different voices and identities by creating meeting places, sharing experiences and meeting new friends. The Network organises café get-togethers, go swimming, cook together and partake in language classes.
– It’s the meeting place in itself that is most valuable. To be able to meet other people who understand their living situation and can support, that’s most important, says Jasminé Mehho, national coordinator for Newcomers.
But Newcomers also want to be opinion forming and strive to influence legal and political decisions that have to do with asylum seeking LGBTQ people.
– Mental ill health and stress is affects this group since they have a double stigma, both as immigrants and LGBTQ people. We want to work on their well-being and give them the support they need in their everyday lives, says Jasminé Mehho.
Advice in difficult asylum process
To build a new life in Sweden you need a residence permit, and an important part of Newcomers’ work is legal counselling. According to Swedish law asylum seeking LGBTQ people from countries that violate their rights have special reasons to stay. Despite that the process is often long and difficult.
– I’m in touch with over 100 people right now through phone, mail and meetings. Many are already in the asylum process but some contact me from abroad with questions because they think about coming to Sweden, says Patrick Bazanye, RFSL’s asylum solicitor.
Stricter asylum laws affect indirectly
Many don’t dare say that they’re LGBTQ people because in their home countries, that is dangerous information.
– We meet so many negative decisions every day, people who contact me and say their application has been rejected and hope that I will be able to help them, and sometimes I can’t. Then it feels very difficult and as if I can’t do my job properly, says Patrick Bazanye.
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