The leading organisation in tackling poverty and promoting integration of LGBTI refugees in the UK
While homosexuality is criminalised in 76 countries we know that LGBTI citizens populating the other 120 countries also experience persecution, exclusion, and discrimination. Some LGBTI people claim asylum in the UK on the basis of their sexual orientation, and/or their gender identity, and/or the way their bodies look.
We estimate that approximately 1,300 LGB people are granted asylum annually in the UK with the majority quickly falling below the poverty line (Margaret’s story).
The rapid descent into poverty is the result of layers of discrimination experienced by lesbian and gay refugees because of their refugee status, race, sexuality, and culture. These refugees carry the pain of surviving persecution in their country of origin, a trauma detrimental to anyone’s self-esteem and confidence, and worsened by the fact that the horror appeared to have followed them to the UK with many reporting feeling unsafe around co-nationals and other heterosexual refugees.
Those that are able to stay have shared many stories – stories of resilience borne of difficult childhoods, long journeys, and painful choices. The LGBTI Refugee Small Business project is the result of a commitment we made after spending a long period of time sitting with these unique refugees, observing and listening.Our 2014 report, Poverty, Sexual Orientation and Refugees in the UK, revealed upsetting details, including:
- Most lesbian and gay refugees in the UK live below the poverty line.
- Lesbian and gay refugees encounter layers of employment discrimination and family rejection (exacerbating their situation of poverty) unseen by heterosexual refugees.
With this project MRI wants to improve incomes, opportunities, and chances at a better life for LGBTI refugees. We do this by:
- Facilitating start-up capital, offering support in drafting business plans, delivering free coaching sessions, facilitating training, and peer-to-peer support, and
- Creating opportunities to end their isolation, like through our LGBTI Interfaith Choir