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Towards a European Federation of LGBTIQ Refugee Accommodations
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of October 18, 2018) In April 2018, the leaders of the LGBTIQ refugee shelters from France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Belgium met in France, and in October in Switzerland again. The Geneva meeting foresees the creation of a European Federation of Refuges for young lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersexuals and other queer people. This is mainly about young people because the dissolution of family ties and the transfer to the streets are usually the result of a coming out and sometimes the revelation of a new gender identity.
While it is true that almost all Western European laws aim at better recognition and integration of LGBTIQ people, social practices and religious beliefs are less progressive than we think. Hence the psychological and social emergencies that require emergency shelters and a process of listening, support and even reflection.
“Le Refuge” welcomed its Swiss and Italian colleagues for the first time in April 2018 in Montpellier, where the French association had been founded in 2003. Then the Swiss association Dialogai, the founder of Refuge Genève in 2015, welcomed its French, Italian, Belgian and Spanish colleagues. The Montpellier meeting provided for the creation of a federation of LGBTIQ refugee shelters, whose Geneva meeting established a “Charter of Commitment to European Cooperation between Shelters,” recently signed on 5 October 2018.
While the LGBTIQ protection organisations stress the need for public sector recognition and support for their tasks, they note that public funding remains below needs. In the Refuge Genève 68% of the funds come from private sources. The Geneva structure had already taken in 40 young people in the first half of 2018, as many as in the whole of 2017. Last year, the number of young people accommodated in France through the 18 delegations of the shelters increased by 22.3%. They were mainly men (83%) and people in the age group from 18 to 24.
According to the Tribune de Genève of October 9, 2018, Pascal Messerli, President of Dialogai Geneva, hopes that a European federation will create “more visibility for our actions” and make it possible to “mobilise European funds for joint projects”.
As far as the future European Federation is concerned, we will probably be able to see its outlines a little better at the next international meeting of LGBTIQ shelters scheduled for January 2019 in Italy.