The Network is very pleased to share news of our central role on a university research project (enabled by our extensive support of time and expertise in its application and start up phases) on the experiences of our international brothers and sisters, who seek asylum or apply for refugee status in the Uk, often after horrific persecution and with the shadows of murder, suicide, mental and physical abuse and torment hanging over them.
LGBT History Month is a global phenomenon and through this particular announcement — highlighting our national and international level pedigree (such as through our role in a joint initiative to challenge the LGBT dimension of the UK Immigration ‘Hostile Environment’) in LGBT+ human rights support in this very important field of the collective LGBT+ experience — we share the scale and effectiveness of our year-round work on LGBT+ Human Rights.
This reminding all community brothers and sisters in History Month of global perspectives and that some community members remain in shackles not of their own making in the UK, alongside those who have been fortunate enough to never have such experiences.
Statement from Professor Christopher Pullen (Bournemouth University), 15th January 2021, regarding central role of Network lead Alan Mercel-Sanca and support from the Network on a nationally and internationally important LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers ‘voice’ and perspectives research project – ‘British Academy Research Project on UK Regional Support Experiences of LGBTQ Refugees and Asylum Seekers’
An important new research project is now taking place, that is funded by The British Academy and is managed by Bournemouth University aiming to improve the experiences of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.
Christopher Pullen, Associate Professor of Media and Inclusivity at Bournemouth University leads the project, which was conceived through working with Alan Mercel-Sanca of the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network, whilst sharing his insight on outreach work. Entitled ‘Understanding LGBTQ Refugees’ and Asylum Seekers’ Support Needs through Listening to Autobiographical Storytelling’, Dr Pullen is working with history and politics lecturer Dr Ieuan Franklin and anthropologist and researcher Dr Mengia Tschalaer to deliver this project.
The project engages with a wide range of regional help providers across the UK, that includes LGB&T Dorset Equality Network, alongside organisations in Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, London, Brighton and Birmingham.
Often isolated, both culturally and socially, LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers experience rejection, bullying and physical assault, leading to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Hence the main objective of the project is to improve the communication experiences of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers, when engaging with help and service providers, so their personal stores might be better understood.
After initial work on this project, it’s clear that LGBTQ refugee help providers are doing excellent work in reaching out to LGBTQ refugees. However, many are living on very limited budgets, and are now feeling deeper psychological and cultural stress from the impact of Covid-19 resulting in successive lockdowns, leading to further isolation. The project has revealed that more connections need to made between LGBTQ help organisations across the UK, so regional help groups can feel less isolated, and best practice might be shared.
An upcoming online symposium is scheduled for May 2021 as part of this project, and whilst it must take place online (rather than in physical form at Bournemouth University, as originally conceived), it has been designed to stimulate connections between help groups around the UK, extending from LGB&T Dorset Equality Network to many other organisations and individuals working in help, service and professional provision.
Hence at the symposium, not only will we hear from help groups managers and professional representatives, but also from LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers themselves. Many of the project’s LGBTQ refugees or asylum seekers contributors, have not only taken very long journeys in order to find shelter here in the UK, but also the project team have been humbled by their honesty and integrity, in asking for nothing more than a chance for their stores to be heard, and potentially to experience some sense of acceptance, if not understanding.