Refugee Women Organising: Identifying protection needs, building solidarity, working towards solutions
Presented by Tina Dixson (refugee co-sponsor, PhD Candidate ANU) and Renee Dixson (PhD Candidate ANU)
In many countries, for LGBTIQ people fear for their life is a daily experience. 30% of UN member states legally discriminate LGBTIQ people, in 11 countries death penalty is in place.
Violence against LGBTIQ people is committed by many actors including families. When we die, no one mourns. When we survive and get protection in other countries, it is for the first time that our lives are recognised as valuable.
In our country of origin, Tina’s and I were under constant threat of violence and death even before we began working as human rights defenders. Once we became visible advocates for the rights of LGBTIQ people, we came to the point in life where violence could no longer be endured. In order to survive we had to flee.
Unlike other refugees, LGBTIQ refugees cannot rely on the support from our ethnic communities due to prevalent homophobia and risks of further violence. Many refugee support services treat refugees as a homogenous group not addressing how age, gender and other diverse backgrounds impact on their protection needs. For many LGBTIQ refugees such a lack of support heightens their isolation, worsens their mental health and increases instances of suicidal thoughts. We have witnessed so many cases when LGBTIQ refugee women were placed in mixed gender housing and where other tenants chose to be homophobic towards them and to bully and abuse them. Without a response, this drives LGBTIQ people into homelessness and thus increases risks of SGBV.
The Canberra Statement has been signed by 321 stakeholders, that include:
Individuals / allies: 235
People with lived experience of forced displacement: 22 (that includes 16 who are LGBTIQ+)
A Gender Agenda
Asian Australian Rainbow Alliance (AAuRA)
Asylum Seekers Centre (NSW)
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre
Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR)
Australia and New Zealand Tongzhi Rainbow Alliance ANTRA Inc.
Australian Catholics for Equality
Australian Lesbian Medical Association
Australian LGBTIQ Multicultural Council
Bisexual Alliance Victoria
Democracy in Colour
drummond street services
Family Planning Alliance Australia
Forced Migration Research Network UNSW
HIV/AIDS Legal Centre
LAHRC – Latin American & Hispanic Rainbow Community
Many Coloured Sky
Marie Stopes Australia
Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)
Open Dialogue Psychotherapy
Pride Foundation Australia
Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)
Queer Sisterhood Project
Rainbow refugee action committee
Refugee Council of Australia
Road to Refuge
Settlement Services International
The Art of Change Agency
The Third Space
Thorne Harbour Health
THREE for All Foundation
TLLPC Pty Ltd
Twenty10 inc GLCS NSW
Resilient- Trans-led organization
Women Refugee Route
Lesbian and Gay association in Germany project “Queer Refugees Deutschland”
Auckland Pride Festival
Intersex Awareness Trust Aotearoa New Zealand
Te Ngākau Kahukura
Tiwhanawhana Trust, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Equal Asia Foundation (Stichting EqualA Foundation)
Oasis Legal Services
“Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America” (documentary)
Individual signatories include people with lived experience of forced displacement, community, health and legal professionals, academics, policy makers, government officials, advocates and many more people committed to safety and justice for LGBTIQ+ people from refugee backgrounds.
Individual signatories DO NOT represent organisational views (even if you recognised their names). They have signed on to the statement in the personal capacity.
Queer Sisterhood Project is a peer-run support and advocacy group aimed to provide a space of community and belonging to queer refugee women.
The group is open to all women (based on the self-identification) who are identifying as queer (homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, same-sex attracted, pansexual) and have sought asylum in Australia because of the persecution on the grounds of gender or sexuality. Women on different stages of the protection visa application, including those who were refugees in the past and are citizens now, are welcome.
The group is run by Tina and Renee Dixson in partnership with Twenty10. At present we meet in Sydney, but we are looking to expand.
We also have an online chat for women who live in different states and territories.
Watch the cartoon ‘Being Queer and Refugee’
Download ‘Being Queer and Refugee’ brochure here that contains 30 tips for service providers for inclusive service provision.
If you are a queer woman who is seeking asylum in Australia, send us an email at queersisterhood [at] gmail.com
If you are an ally, Join us as we are building a community where queer refugee women.