Report: LGBT harassment in asylum centers “out of control”

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The harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers in the asylum centers is out of control, according to the COC, the interest group for gay people. "If something is not done quickly for gays in the asylum centers, there will be deaths", Janneke van Maanen of COC Midden Gelderland said to Omroep Gelderland on Sunday.

According to Van Maanen, these incidents are much more serious than is being portrayed in the media. "It stars with spitting and bullying, but it escalates because the situation lasts a long time. We noticed an increase in the number of incidents, and that the incidents are getting more violent. We have major concerns that there will be fatalities."

Incidents of LGBT asylum seekers being harassed include a gay Iraqi couple being forced to flee the shelter in Apeldoorn after being attacked by fellow residents and reports of routine harassment in the Heumensoord asylum camp in Nijmegen. One gay asylum seeker in the center in Haarlem told Het Parool in December that he is forced to keep his sexual orientation secret in the center for fear of attacks.

The COC is still urging that safe houses be created for LGBT asylum seekers. According to Van Maanen, Education Minister Jet Bussemaker's plan to give gay rights awareness courses in asylum centers will not be enough.

The VVD is against the creation of safe houses, VVD parliamentarian Hayke Veldman said to the broadcaster. He thinks that offenders should be put in a separate shelter, instead of victims. "By moving the victims, you reward the perpetrators", he said.

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