Gay Iraqi couple forced from asylum center after TV appearance

Two gay Iraqi men had to flee the emergency refugee shelter in Apeldoorn on Thursday night when they were attacked by fellow asylum seekers. The attack happened after a Nieuwsuur broadcast on the same night in which one of the men talked about gay discrimination he has encountered in the asylum center.

The man's identity was hidden during the broadcast, but some of the other asylum seekers still managed to recognize him. A spokesperson for the COA, the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers in the Netherlands, confirmed to broadcaster NOS that the men were harassed, but could not say whether they were physically attacked.

One of the involved men told the broadcaster that he and his friend were attacked by three men in the center's cafeteria. "One of the men pushed me and hit me and my friend with his cellphone. They also took pictures of us." the Iraqi man said, adding that other people then also turned against them. "They insulted us and shouted that we had to go away."

The two men fled the emergency refugee shelter around 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night and only dared to return around 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning after talking to the COA's security personnel.

The police confirmed that a disturbance caused by the sexual orientation of the people involved was reported, but the COA's security told them that it was under control and officers do not have to respond.

The COA is looking for a solution to the problem, a spokesperson said. The men involved would like to be moved to another location. "We came to the Netherlands due to the gay rights in the Netherlands. We want to go to a safer place as quickly as possible."