Over 60 incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence in asylum centers; Gov't called to do something
More needs to be done to combat anti-LGBTQ violence in asylum centers in the Netherlands, according to foundation LGBT Asylum Support. The foundation received over 60 reports of discrimination, threats, and violence against asylum seekers from the LGBTQ community since June. In a letter to State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Justice and Security, the foundation called on the government to intervene.
Recently two asylum seekers from Nigeria were arrested for attacking a lesbian couple living in the asylum center with them. One of the victims was doused with boiling water, leaving her with second degree burns.
LGBT Asylum Support called for separate housing to be created for LGBTQ asylum seekers who don't feel safe in the general shelter.
This idea isn't new. In March 2016, the Tweede Kamer adopted a D66 motion on separate shelter for LGBTQ asylum seekers. And such a department was created in Ter Apel. But in 2019, heterosexual asylum seekers were moved in there due to lack of space, Trouw reports. A spokesperson for the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA told the newspaper that there is still too little space in asylum centers for official LGBTQ units.
In 2016, the government also announced a national information campaign about LGBTQ rights that would be offered in every asylum center, using the method and material from similar campaigns run in secondary schools. But little came of that, gay rights organization COC said to Trouw. "The living situation of asylum seekers cannot be compared to that of pupils," spokesperson Jan-Willem Bruin said. "They are in a stressful situation, they are just entering Dutch society. That's why the high school method doesn't work."
According to Bruin, the asylum centers remain "very unsafe" for LGBTQ people. He believes that not all anti-LGBTQ incidents reach the police due to fear. "Asylum seekers often come from countries where, if they go to the police, they are arrested," he said. "Reporting can also be dangerous: the threatener often lives with the victim."
Refugees' organization Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland agrees that anti-LGBTQ violence is an often occurring problem in asylum centers. "But it is difficult to tackle," spokesperson Evita Bloemheuvel said to newspaper Trouw. "Because a lot happens out of sight: an angry look, or a push in the hallway."