Policy Bristol: The Effects of COVID-19 on Queer Asylum Claimants in Germany
Policy Briefing 87: June 2020 - Mengia Tschalaer (University of Bristol)
About the context
The Covid-19 pandemic clearly reveals the vulnerability of LGBTQI+ persons seeking asylum and refuge within the Common European Asylum System and as applied in Germany. However, people seeking asylum find themselves in cramped accommodation with less access to community and with increased instances of violence and trauma. In most federal states, legal services offered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) have been temporarily suspended. A particularly vulnerable group within the category of asylum claimants in Germany are lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual, gender non-binary and intersex people seeking asylum who often experience loneliness and abuse in reception and accommodation camps due to homo/trans-phobia. The continuing pandemic substantially exacerbates the social isolation they were already facing and poses specific challenges in regard to accommodation, healthcare, access to community, trauma and isolation, and (sexual) violence.
The system of reception and centralized accommodation camps must be reconfigured in order to ensure safety and health standards for all refugees. However, in the short term, LGBTQI+ persons should be assigned single rooms in reception and accommodation camps, or assigned safe LGBTQI+ housing, so as to minimize risks of violence and stigmatization.
• All camps must have a free and stable internet connection that allows for LGBTQI+ persons to stay in touch with their counsellors, LGBTQI+ community organizations and friends so as to tackle extreme isolation and prevent retraumatization.
• Shelters, support services and other measures to address gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic should take steps to include the LGBTQI+ population in these measures.
• Specific efforts should be made to ensure accessible health care for all during a health crisis – regardless of residence status – and to minimize stigmatization and discrimination for LGBTQI+ persons. Healthcare that is particularly relevant to LGBTQI+ people should not be de-prioritized during a pandemic.
• Counselling and support services in adequate languages for LGBTQI+ should not be stopped during a pandemic. LGBTQI+ refugee groups and networks have to be supported and provided with funding for them to offer help and support services. It must be ensured that LGBTQI+ persons have access to these services in order to minimize risks of re-traumatization, depression, self-harm and substance abuse.
Video: Covid-19 and Queer Asylum- Highlights of the Conference 29.04.2020