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17 May 2017

Comments/questions: editor@iom.int


UN Migration Agency Director General’s Message on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Switzerland - Every person experiences migration differently. Gender identity and sexual orientation can have an impact on a migrant’s journey – unfortunately, often in a negative and even dangerous way.

In 2017, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals still face an alarming number of human rights abuses, including exclusion, discrimination, harassment, public outing, prosecution, corrective rape, damaging medical treatments, torture and murder.

Seventy-five States still have laws criminalizing same sex activities, with punishments as extreme as death. In these communities, discrimination is often deeply entrenched. This can be a factor in why someone migrates or becomes displaced and it can pose serious risks while a person is in transit or once arrived at their destination.

Equality and freedom from discrimination are fundamental human rights that belong to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or because they are intersex.

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Migrants atop the double-layer fence around Spain’s north African enclave Ceuta, September 2016. Photo: Antonio Sempere

LGBT Asylum Seekers Abused in North African Enclave

Milan – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers in Spain’s North African enclave, Ceuta, are exposed to harassment and abuse, according to Human Rights Watch. Spanish authorities should transfer them to mainland Spain without delay and halt its de facto policy of blocking most asylum seeker transfers to the mainland.

“LGBT asylum seekers who fled homophobic harassment and intimidation at home face similar abuse in Ceuta, both at the immigration center and on the street,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Spain should transfer them to reception centers on the mainland, where they can get the services and support they are entitled to.”

All migrants who enter Ceuta irregularly are housed in the Temporary Stay Center for Immigrants (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes, CETI), under the authority of the Employment and Social Security Ministry. The facility, designed for short-term stays and with a capacity of 512 people, is often overcrowded. Despite staff efforts, asylum seekers cannot get the care and services there to which they have the right under Spanish law.

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Find more information on IOM and LGBTI here

“i am a migrant” is part of the UN TOGETHER initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for those who have left home in search of a better life. More here

Irvin: "I feel lucky for what I have. It's been a terrifying and lonely journey, but the results are empowerment, new friendships, and peace."
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"Equality and freedom from discrimination are fundamental human rights that belong to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or because they are intersex." –  William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General. Read more here.


The LGBTI Pulse Memorial Scholarship provides financial support to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer, individuals between 18 and 26 who are in pursuit of a university or college degree.
Find more details here
Watch video here


Migration in the News

  • World Economic Forum published an article by IOM Director General William Lacy Swing on why more should be done to assist migrants in Libya.
  • IANS reported that a total of 53,912 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 as of May 14, with nearly 85 per cent arriving in Italy.
  • UN News Centre reported that hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Mosul are struggling to cope with the sweltering summer heat.
  • UN News Centre reported that two-thirds of internally displaced Ukrainians are struggling financially; many without even enough money for food.
  • GNA reported that IOM has, with European Union funding, handed over vehicles, information and communication technology equipment and other items to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to enhance their capacity to effectively manage borders.
  • Emirates News Agency and Uganda’s NTV reported that Uganda is hosting the third Pan African Forum on Migration, until the 17th of May, with delegates from the continent and from across the world meeting in the capital, Kampala.
  • The Bangkok Post reported Indonesia’s calls for increased aggressive regional action to end the scourge of illegal fishing.

Trending on the Internet

  • The Economist reported that Britain owes much more to migration than it admits, as the new Migration Museum in London shows.
  • BBC spoke to 17-year-old Mustafa, one of the many migrants in the port of Patras, Greece who are prepared to take huge risks to try to reach Italy.

Media Contacts
For interviews and other media requests, please contact the IOM Media and Communications team here.