LGBTI-people are facing repression from the state as well as social marginalisation in many states. Whereas some major cities may already have refuges, in which people can burgeon, this kind of anonymity is missing in rural areas so that the everyday lives of many are aggravated. Acting out one’s personality as well as sexual orientation apart from heteronormative identity- and relationship concepts is virtually impossible. Persecution, exclusion, and assaults as serious as murder are impended if a person confesses publicly to his or her sexuality and identity.

Since 2011, for example, the situation of Russian LGBTI-people has deteriorated rapidly. The already precarious situation is being amplified by the laws against “homosexual propaganda” under the pretext of aiming to protect minors of paedophiliacs. The laws, which were first asserted on a communal level and in 2013 became enforced even federally, render the life as an openly queer or homo-, bi-, trans- or intersexual person impossible. Insults, humiliations, and attacks from often times patriotic and neo-Nazi groups are often governmentally tolerated. Furthermore, fines and jail sentences are now issued to obvious members of the LGBTI community across the Russian Federation.
However, the difficult and sometimes life-threatening situation in Russia is just one of many examples. In large parts of the world repressions and (physical) dangers of LGBTI-people is similar or even worse, especially in African and Arabian countries, where to some extent even the death penalty is inflicted on homosexuality.

As a consequence of these developments and circumstances many LGBTI-people are forced to leave their home countries. Especially in the Russian Federation many people are affected and fleeing, also to Brandenburg an der Havel. Over the course of these circumstances, a small Russian LGBTI-community evolved in our town. One person was already a victim of assault and further affected by the ignorance and failure to act of the managers in charge at the accommodations, due to her particular case. Through sustaining her we have been confronted with many problems for the first time. We needed to educate both ourselves as well as the refugees in order to be able to cope with and eventually solve all upcoming problems. Through this continuous education, the person affected by now has become a nationwide contact person for Russian LGBTI-refugees. Regretfully we had to realise that attacks on LGBTI-people in the accommodations are rather rule than exception.
Some of the people affected only leave their rooms in case of emergency due to fear. The anticipated life in freedom and without discrimination is far in the distance. Refugees in small municipalities are hit especially hard, due to the lack of gathering places for LGBTI-people or safe havens. In the meantime, LGBTI-organisations in Germany have understood the problem and established special accommodations for LGBTI-refugees in Berlin, respectively Nürnberg. In Dresden, projects with the aim of accommodating LGBTI-people decentralized were created, too. Furthermore it is apparent that specialisations of refugee-support-networks as well as new initiatives, such as ours, are forming to support this particular group of refugees, which, according to varying statistics, represent between one and five percent of all refugees.

Many LGBTI-people who have had to flee from their homes are well connected among themselves through (online) social networks, just as in Brandenburg an der Havel. We as refugee-supporters thus have been repeatedly confronted with the particular problems, including defencelessness and isolation, of LGBTI-people all over Germany. Through numerous conversations and discussions with LGBTI-people on site the idea of a great convention of LGBTI-people and their supporters formed. An organization-team consisting of people with all kinds of political and social backgrounds evolved. Some have been active in radical groups or political parties for years, for others it is their first political project while others are refugees themselves and have been politically active in their home countries. Three main goals for our “Refugee-LGBTI-Conference”, which will take place from April 15th to April 17th, evolved:

  1. (further) education of refugees and supporters
  2. Getting to know each other, creating networks and having a good time
  3. Awakening attention and gaining publicity to the situation of LGBTI-refugees

In order to meet all these requirements different forms of action are planned. Thus a panel discussion following a party are scheduled for Friday. On Saturday a variety of workshops, specifically designed for refugees and supporters will take place, aiming to prepare the people for their upcoming interviews, as well as for their further lives in Germany. Also the aspect of discrimination and physical attacks are taken into account by offering a self-defense workshop. On Sunday we will take to the streets as one and raise awareness for LGBTI-refugees by holding a gay pride demonstration.
Because the aspects of meeting and networking are especially near and dear to us, we also included enough free time to eat together and leave open space to connect and share experiences and opinions.

LGBTI: short for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people.