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Progressives call for more help for women and LGBT refugees after visit

Debate room During a visit to Turkey on Friday (19 February) a delegation of the Party of European Socialists witnessed the vulnerability of women and LGBT refugees. After listening to civil society working with the refugees, and the women and vulnerable groups that they help, the PES is calling for a more gendered approach to dealing with asylum.

Zita Gurmai, President of PES Women said ‘As they travel to escape war and violence, women are too often victims of sexual abuse and other crimes; discrimination, sexual violence, human trafficking, and maternal and reproductive health problems, lack of access to employment or education. If women suffer these things it is because of their gender, so their gender must be taken into account when deciding how they are supported.

She added: ‘Growing numbers of women and children are now making the dangerous journey away from war and refugee camps in the hope of finding better protection and opportunities in Europe. This route had previously been dominated by men, so now that more women are making the journey the reception and systems in place need to adapt to the new reality they face. This is vital to ensure women receive a safe and secure arrival.’

The PES delegation was joined by a delegation from Rainbow Rose, the LGBT organisation of the PES. Together, Rainbow Rose and PES Women released a joint statement on the situation of women and LGBTI refugees. The statement calls for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees to be considered in welcome procedures. This is sadly a widespread problem, but it has been highlighted recently in the context of the Syrian crisis. LGBTI asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to persecution, particularly – but not only – in areas controlled by ISIS, and as they flee persecution.

Aurelien Mazuy, Rainbow Rose President said ‘All asylum seekers are vulnerable, and all deserve our support and protection. But LGBTI asylum seekers are particularly in need of our support as discrimination can still occur in refugees camps and the assessment of their applications requires an improvement in asylum authorities' understanding of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity based forms of persecution. The role of NGOs working on the ground is crucial to this respect and EU law principles and tools designed for LGBTI people must be fully implemented'

The Young European Socialists, and a number of sister parties were also in the delegation.

Read the statement 

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