Homosexuality continues to be a taboo topic in most Arab countries. People are imprisoned for their sexual orientation and, in the most egregious cases, even put to death. Gay or bisexual men are labelled as “ill” in many places. That is why many such men flee to Europe in the hope of escaping the hostility. But discrimination can continue in migrant reception centres.
Different value systems
As there are many trouble spots in the Arab world, many people are fleeing these regions and coming to Europe. Most of the migrants currently coming to Switzerland originate from Syria, Eritrea and Guinea. They have been brought up with a value system that accepts only heterosexuality: homosexuality is illegal in these three countries and punishable with imprisonment. Conflicts can erupt when these migrants are confronted with other sexual orientations in Switzerland’s migrant reception centres.
Taboo topic in the asylum systems
Pascale Navarra of Queeramnesty assesses the risk of attacks on LGBT migrants as high: “Tolerance of homosexuality amongst many migrants is very low; religious or moral attitudes are often accentuated in exile and more likely to be acted upon,” she says. Transgender people are even more affected, as they do not conform to either traditional gender role. However, because there is a general feeling that people seeking sanctuary should not be challenged any more than they already are, the issue of their intolerance is seldom addressed. As a result, fear is what prompts many LGBT migrants to keep their sexual orientation secret.
Source image: stock