LGBTI refugees from Syria will be eligible to be resettled in the United Kingdom, the government has confirmed.
In September, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the UK will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. The announcement that LGBTI refugees will be included in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme was made yesterday by Lord Bates, a Home Office Minister, responding to questions raised by Lord Scriven, a Liberal Democrat peer, in Parliament. Lord Bates wrote:
'The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR’s) vulnerability criteria for identifying refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme include persons at risk due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, and LGBTI refugees are identified through their normal screening procedures.'
Lord Bates confirmed those eligible for resettlement include:
"Survivors of violence and/or torture; refugees with legal and/or physical protection needs; refugees with medical needs or disabilities; children and adolescents at risk; persons at risk due to their sexual orientation or gender identity; and refugees with family links in resettlement countries."
The news has been welcome by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group:
"UKLGIG has been calling on the UK Government to commit to resettling and protecting LGBTI refugees from Syria for some months. Resettlement is often the only durable solution to guarantee the safety of LGBTI people due to the grave dangers many experience in refugee camps and places of displacement," said Executive Director Paul Dillane.
'It is vital the UK authorities confirm what steps they are taking to identify vulnerable LGBTI refugees, especially in countries like Jordan and Lebanon where LGBTI people face significant dangers. Many will be too afraid to come forward to ask for help in case their sexuality or gender identity becomes known publicly. It is critical they are processed in a secure manner.’
'LGBTI refugees who are resettled in the UK are likely to be traumatised and isolated, many will have been rejected by their families and communities. It is essential that provision is made for their specific needs. UKLGIG is committed to working with the Government to ensure this scheme provides real protection for LGBTI refugees.'
LGBTI Syrians face persecution and even death under ISIS' regime. In August, gay refugees from territory controlled by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) recounted the horror of living under the extremist group’s regime
to the United Nation Security Council, describing how men suspected of being gay were routinely tortured and executed.
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