Why LGBT refugees? Don’t all refugees need help?
Yes, all refugees do need help. We encourage you to help in any way you can. We are helping in this way.
This event will hopefully emphasize our shared humanity. After all, all members of the LGBT community are women, men and children. They are people and they would like to be seen as more than refugees and more than LGBT.
Nevertheless, this event supports LGBT refugees because they face multiple levels of discrimination. They face discrimination because they are a refugee and because they LGBT.
Many countries, overwhelmed with the recent crisis, have not been able to separate LGBT refugees from those from their countries, or from other countries, that harbor homophobic attitudes. Therefore, these refugees are often placed in camps where they face discrimination and violence from groups of other refugees, in addition to what they face outside the resettlement camps, because of their orientation or gender.
In the same way there are special organizations that serve children’s, women’s and men’s need, there are organizations that aid children, women and men ( and other genders and sexes) who are LGBT.
These organizations relocate them to safe spaces. They offer counseling and networking. They offer educational and cultural programs to help them integrate. Then, for those who wish to discuss their gender or sexuality, they provide a place for them to do so.
Why international NGOs when there is so much that can be done locally?
We agree that much good can be done locally, this is why Red Room has supported, and will continue to support, local communities through our events and through the organizations we collaborate with. In fact, though the main beneficiaries of the event will be those abroad, we will also be promoting local artists, actors and musicians throughout the day. So, if you hold any interest in the arts, this will be a wonderful way to support the artistic community in Taiwan. We have also connected with members of the local LGBT community and will work with them to bring this event into fruition.
For this particular event Red Room, as a part of the International village, chose to work with an international organization because we believe they are addressing an extremely urgent and timely issue. The plight of LGBT refugees is singular in that they face violence in discrimination both within and without the refugee camps. Furthermore, the resources available are growing scarcer as the crisis grows and xenophobic attitudes rise. We believe communities here in Taiwan have shown tremendous empathy beyond their own borders in the past and we believe they again.
Moreover, we believe it is beneficial for Taiwan to connect with those beyond its borders and to demonstrate its leadership in the global community through providing aid and participating in events like these.
What are LGBT refugees facing? How is the plight of LGBT refugees particularly dire?
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an agency created to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees, categorizes LGBT refugees and asylum seekers as one of the main groups which most urgently need to be safely resettled.
Like many refugees, LGBTI+ refugees flee their countries due to violence, discrimination and numerous other threats to their health and well-being. Unlike other refugees, members of the LGBTI+ community are likely to face persecution because of their sexual orientation in the country they seek asylum.
As the UNHCR’s director of international protection noted, “The persecution they flee from is at times repeated in the country of asylum and also within refugee communities, making it difficult for them to access community support networks and humanitarian services.”
Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of members of the LGBTI+ community facing violence and discrimination in the camps they are resettled. Linked here are only five stories, but there have been a number of other reports. Refugees, including LGBTI+ refugees, also face violence and discrimination because of their ethnicity. As a result, many LGBTI+ refugees do not feel safe in or outside these camps.
Understandably, many of them self isolate out of fear while in resettlement camps and, during the three to four month period they are waiting to be granted refugee status or asylum they have few resources. They cannot work or, in most cases, study. Often with little money, they cannot afford to attend events which might ease their integration into a new community and culture. Fear for their life might also prevent them from seeking aid, and many NGOs are not suitably equipped to address unique problems LGBTI refugees face (e.g. gender dysphoria); other NGOs struggle to adequately address or understand differences in language or culture. More often NGOs, especially in Germany, are overwhelmed with the refugee crisis and are working to spread few resources to many people.
The challenges LGBTI+ refugees face are both urgent and, in some cases, life-threatening and we would like to support the organizations which aid them.
The organizers of Queer Refugees Network Leipzig noticed these problems, and chose to organize a program dedicated to reaching out to LGBTI+ refugees, providing them with safe housing, educational resources, and a space staffed with LGBTI+ counselors and coordinators who speak their language and who can ensure they receive healthcare, legal representation and counseling while going through arduous asylum process and provide additional services afterwards. To learn more about the programs QueeRNL provides, please read “What does QueeRNL do?”
Where can we learn more about the refugees we are helping?
We will be releasing a comic which uses some of the stories that have been relayed to us. As the anonymity of those we are helping is of the utmost importance, we have chosen to create new characters using parts of their accounts and other accounts from the news.
We will also be showing videos filmed by the LGBT refugees who wished to share their stories. We will only show these videos at the event and we respectfully ask that you turn off all cameras and phones during the showing. For the safety of the people we are helping, it is important that they remain anonymous.
What is Artists Bridge the Gap IV?
Artists Bridge the Gap IV is an all day event bringing together live art, music, and theatre from across the island for the purpose of bridging gaps between international communities and creating opportunities for those in need.
How did Artists Bridge the Gap IV start?
The event which lead to Artists Bridge the Gap IV took place in 2009 following Typhoon Morokat. Observing the devastation Morokat had caused in Taiwan, the artistic community organized Artists Beat the Flood, a live art event to provide aid for those in need.
The event was very successful, thanks to everyone’s support, raising over half a million New Taiwanese dollars to support disaster relief efforts.
The events that followed, Artists Beat the Flood II and Artists Break the Mold III, were organized to support the Red room and all the volunteers, artists, musicians, and writers who are part of the community.
What activities will there be at the event?
We have so much planned for Artists Bridge the Gap IV!
At the event you can expect to watch a canvas transform from blank cloth to a work of art.
You can sing along to our first ever live performance of a song written specially for the event.
You can decorate and create postcards to be sent to families and friends.
You can enjoy refreshing drinks created especially for ABTGIV attendees by the Red Room.
After reading Red Room’s ABTGIV graphic novel, you can continue following the characters’s journey at All’s Well Theatre’s live performance.
You can learn more about Artist Bridge the Gap IV activities by clicking the ABTGIV link at the top of the page, or by clicking here.
Is there a place I can read about the artists and musicians feature at the event?
You can learn more about ABTGIV artists and musicians by visiting the Red Room Blog. All artist and musician profiles will be shown on the left hand side under the title “profiles”.
You can also find artists and musician biographies by searching for “ABTG4” on the Red Room website.
Why Leipzig? Why not Germany overall?
Queer Refugees Network Leipzig bears its name not because it only serves refugees in Leipzig, though at this point that is its main focus, but because the program was established in Leipzig.
With additional resources, QueeRNL hopes to continue expanding, eventually providing services for LGBTI refugees nationally and advocating for LGBTI+ rights and refugee rights throughout Europe.
What does QueeRNL do?
QueeRNL is a project backed by the NGO RosaLinde Leipzig e.V., whose premises and network QueeRNL project members use. QueeRNL aims to provide the “three Cs”: counseling, company and congress.
Counseling is offered to look at individual cases and find solutions and relevant institutions. This is very central because the ratio of social workers to refugees and clients is 1:300, meaning that each social worker must address all issues that those 300 people face.
Obviously, they are not always able to offer comprehensive strategies.This is where QueeRNL offers help. The program identifies unique problems their clients face and looks for solutionoriented strategies. Many volunteers within QueeRNL are also queer people of color with knowledge on issues related to the intersectionality of being a queer, person of color and a refugee.
Company involves going with clients to doctors, lawyers or any other institution to provide support and offer language mediation. This aspect of the program ensures clients feel comfortable and are better able to make informed decisions on what care they require and are able to obtain.
Congress aims to create a platform for the refugees. Weekly meetups help clients connect, and build friendships and support groups. Once more organized and better funded, this platform will also be used to lobby for interests and create visibility in the communities on a local and hopefully national and European level. QueeRNL intends to build up these structures, and add to them, in a sustainable manner.
One project that is underway is queer housing. Many refugees are initially placed in housing where they face discrimination. QueeRNL is working to relocate refugees to queer and safe shelters to escape discrimination in their refugee camps.
In addition to aiding QueeRNL provide the three C’s, funding will also help finance information channels to reach refugees, extracurricular activities in the group, and investment in future house projects.
What is Rosalinde Leipzig e.V.?
Rosalinde Leipzig e.V. is a nonforprofit, nongovernmental organization formed in 1989 which operates on a transparent, democratic basis through the support of volunteers. The organization seeks to advocate for and support the LGBTI+ community through four primary ‘pillars’:
1. Counseling: Rosalinde Leipzig e.V. has trained volunteers and specialists at their counseling centers to provide guidance, education, and help for members of the LGBTI+ community and their family, friends and advocates. In addition to private sessions, they also host discussion groups for LGBTI+ people who wish to ‘come out’ or who seek an inclusive, safe space to discuss and explore their gender or identity.
2. Education: Rosalinde Leipzig e.V. offers resources for further education and hosts educational programs.
Their programs aim to educate parents and friends of the LGBIT+ community on how best to support their loved
One such program, “Love True Colors!”, focuses on educating students in Saxon schools on LGBTI+ issues and helping LGBTI+ individuals involved in extracurricular activities. They provide education on sexual orientation and gender identity to encourage young people to accept their LGBTI+ peers and ensure LGBTI+ students and community members can comfortably participate in extracurricular activities at school. The team members of the project are young adults who share their own experiences as community members of the experiences of the
LGBTI+ community through educational workshops.
Along that vein, Rosalinde Leipzig e.V. educates the community on the discrimination faced by the LGBTI+ community, and provides sex education, including information on HIV/Aids. They also share information on and facilitate partner events, including The Parent Information Point, a collaboration between the Working Group on Sex education and the health centre in Leipzig, which focuses on providing information to parents on issues related to sexuality and gender.
3. Advocacy: An organization that acknowledges the importance of intersectionality, they advocate not only against homophobia and transphobia but also against racism, sexism, and any form of discrimination.They advocate for their members through integrating their work into sociocultural
events, through composing statements on education, theology, medicine and sociology with regards to LGBTI+; and through addressing
legal and political issues that affect LGBTI+ people. They also conduct and participate in public events where they advocate for LGBTI+ issues and highlight LGBTI+ artistic contributions and culture. In addition, the provide information and consultancy on legal issues for their members and the community.
4. Culture: Rosalinde Leipzig e.V. highlights and promotes LGBTI+ culture and art through readings, musical performances, cabaret performances, and exhibitions. In concordance with that goal, Rosalinde has been one of the main organizers of the LGBT+ Pride Parade in Leipzig every year. This year, Rosalinde Leipzig e.V., in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation Saxony , are involved in a book fair programme to ensure LGBTI+ voices are included in literary canon and queer and feminist perspectives are represented. They will also be hosting a reading, which includes three queer authors, at their institution. Finally, they are inviting LGBTI+ audiences to share their own stories on the day.
I’m in! How can I support the event and the cause?
You can support Artists Bridge the Gap 4 and QueeRNL through the following:
- Purchasing a ticket for the event here
- Purchasing a T-shirt
- Purchasing post cards
- Purchasing a comic book
- Bidding on a piece of artwork
If you can not attend the event, you can also support QueeRNL through their crowdfunding campaign.