The reception of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees in Europe

Friday, 21 October 2022

On Wednesday 12 October, POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ-PLS and its European partners closed the Rainbow Welcome project with a conference at the European Parliament (Brussels). A look back at this event which brought together around one hundred people, including refugees, civil society actors, project partners and MEPs.

The conference

Supported by the LGBTI Intergroup of the European Parliament and in particular by MEPs Pierre Karleskind (France, Renew Europe) and Malin Björk (Sweden, The Left), the conference was held in front of more than a hundred people to discuss the issues related to the reception of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers in Europe. 

This event was also an opportunity for the partners to look back on the work done during the two years of collaboration and to discuss the position of Europe and Belgium on the issue. The objectives of Rainbow Welcome were to identify the protocols in force in the countries of the project partners and at the European level, and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of these systems. At the end of the project, the aim was to create training courses for professionals in direct contact with LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees, a public with particular needs both in their care in shelters and in their application for refugee status.

The diversity of the conference speakers' profiles enriched the debate and highlighted for the participants the difficulties that this issue raises and the urgency of the situation thanks to the testimonies of LGBTQIA+ refugees.

The speakers

  • Pierre Karleskind, MEP (Renew Europe), Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup (France)
  • Marie Schuller, Former Project Officer, POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ (Belgium)
  • Betsy Vivegnis, Project Officer, POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ (Belgium)
  • Xavier Compte, Volunteer, ACATHI (Spain)
  • Thibault Anselmi, Deputy Director of Development Projects, Fondation Le Refuge (France)
  • Mahamed Robleh Bourale, Coordinator, CADAL, Reception Centre for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers (Belgium)
  • Mohamad, Talal and Arsène, Refugees (Belgium)
  • Oliviero Aseglio, Spokesperson for Sarah Schlitz - Belgian Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity and former spokesperson for Rainbow House in Brussels (Belgium)
  • Emmanuel Smaïl, Social worker, DENH, a specific facility for refugees and asylum seekers of the Fondation Le Refuge (France)
  • Malin Björk, MEP (The Left), Vice Chair of the LGBTI Intergroup (Sweden)
  • Birgit Sippel, MEP (S&D), Rapporteur for the prior examination of asylum applications of refugees, LIBE Member, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup (Germany)
  • Abir Al-Sahlani, MEP (Renew Europe), Member LIBE, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup (Sweden)
  • Dimitri Verdonck, Director, Le Refuge Brussels (Belgium)

What next?

The project is not finished! In addition to organising more training sessions in France and Belgium, the partners are currently preparing recommendations for European policymakers.

You can also join the #RainboWelcome campaign and take action for a better reception of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers by making their reception conditions visible!