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.
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.
This project has been funded by the Channel Diverse Storytelling Grant. The cartoon discusses the experiences of being queer and refugee taking about navigating the life in Australia as a queer refugee woman. The cartoon has been co-designed with women.
This project privileges and foregrounds the lived experience of queer refugee women. It’s unique as we share what we think is an effective support and vital as it tells the world that we exist. This is one of the first projects in Australia of such nature.
If you are a queer woman who is seeking asylum in Australia and you want to be a part of this work, please contact me.
Brochure ‘Being Queer and Refugee’
This project has been funded by the Lesbian Inc Grant. It is an informational resource aimed at service providers to better understand the experiences of queer refugee women and ensure appropriate service provision. It provides 30 useful tips for service providers to make sure that their service provision is inclusive.
You can download the web version and the print version with crop and bleed here. You can print your own copy, however you may not change the content of the brochure. See the copyright instructions on the p2 of the brochure.
Sexual health: free workshop for queer refugee women
This workshop aimed to cover a range of topics in relation to sexual health including types of sexual practices between people with vulvas, psychosexual health, consent, body autonomy, STIs and transmission, and methods of safe sex. This workshop is for all women, non-binary people and people with vulvas.
It was held in December 2018.
GALFA Grant to organise a first-ever retreat for queer refugee women.