BECAUSE LOVE STILL HAS NO BORDERS
After the end of the summer of migration and the closing of the European borders the amount of people arriving in Europe in search of safety decreased. The reason for that is not that the problems, which force the people to leave everything behind and flee, have been solved, but rather aggravated laws, increased controls at the European borders and the treaty with Turkey. People on the flight are forced to suffer in border camps or try to come to Europe on even more dangerous routes, a lot of them dying thereby.
And even if they manage to reach Germany all buttons are being pressed to avoid letting them stay and to impede people’s lives and their integration: Dublin-III-treaty, the classification of so called safe countries, the impediment of letting the family reunify, hardly getting the chance to enter the job market, discrimination through federal offices.
LGBTIQ* – people face even more obstacles, such as being forced to prove their sexual orientation, not getting their partnership acknowledged, being confronted with social workers, who are not sensitized enough and advise them to hide their sexual orientation in the camps in order to avoid trouble with other residents. Social workers and the federal agency for migration and refugees (BAMF) are little (or not at all) sensitized and therefore cannot (or even do not want to) help in cases of sexualized violence, may it be in a verbal, mental or physical form.
Whereas LGBTIQ*-people are facing social exclusion, governmental repression and structural discrimination in some states (which often includes imprisonment, torture and/or murder, but at least the prohibition to live out their own sexuality) Germany likes to see itself in a moralising role. But still there are people confronted with exclusion due to their lifestyle choices apart from hetero-normativity here, may it be the acknowledgement of their marriage, the questioning after parental qualities of LGBTIQ*-people or even just the simple naming of other sexual orientations within sex ed classes. And all this is reflected in the way how LGBTIQ*-refugees are being treated. While a lot of improvements have been undertaken during the last year, such as special accommodations or new networks, old problems persist. Because these changes mentioned above mainly happened in bigger cities and are created by NGOs. Governmentally nothing has changed.
To cope with these problems and the repressive and discriminative ways of acting regarding asylum, a further network of refugees and supporters is needed. Furthermore (self-) education and increasing society’s awareness is necessary.
Moreover it is necessary to create spaces in which those affected can spend time with each other, exchange experiences and thoughts, not only locally but nationwide. Because some people are isolated in their accommodation and only can get in contact with other LGBTIQ*-people online.
Due to these existing needs and the positive feedback of the attendees after last year’s conference we knew quickly that there would be another project. The goals are the same as the ones from the last conference:
1. (Self-) education for refugees and supporters
2. Get together / networking / exchange and fun
3. Attaining the public’s awareness for the situation of LGBTIQ*-refugees
One step further – from the LGBTI- Conference to LGBTIQ*-Conference
Already last year we have been asked from time to time why we are only using the term LGBTI instead of LGBTIQ* or any other (more comprehensive) term. That is why we want to explain the change we made. We want to annotate that we by far are no experts and therefore also do not insist to claim “the correct” term. Since 2014 we are supporting LGBTIQ*-refugees, who fled the Russian Federation. Within their local community the term LGBT is used self-designatedly. We as supporters did not dare to arrogate questioning the established self-designation. Since in German contexts the usage of LGBTI is more common than LGBT we extended the term in agreement with everyone.
When we discussed the layout for the conference in 2017 last summer, we got caught on the term again. We remembered the afterthought of not really having chosen a comprehensive term and thus excluded people, who we actually planned on involving, just by picking the headlines. That is why we decided to extend the term by adding Q* . To put in a nutshell:
Dear Lesbian-, Gay-, Bi-, Trans-, Inter-, Queer- people and everyone who is defining themselves differently, you are warmly welcome to the Refugee-LGBTIQ*-Conference!