Asylum Seekers, LGBTQ and Mental Health

Posted on 11th May 2021

'If you have everything, but you don't have freedom, you'll never enjoy your life.'

 

The LGBTQ+ community in a 'normal, functioning' society are still, in 2021, considered and treated as a minority. With this in thought, we must stretch our minds to realms that we have the privilege of never having to experience, for example, being a part of the queer asylum seeker culture. Whether an individual is fleeing their country as a direct response to oppression/discrimination towards who they are,  or, under other circumstances but still being ostracised on their journey, the unspoken voices of these individuals are those who need to be recognised and heard. Everyone deserves to have a seat at the table. 

 

In 1951, the UN created an international treaty stating that if a queer person should find themselves in danger due to their sexuality or gender identity, they belong to a 'persecuted social group', allowing those in oppressive societies to apply for asylum to another country. However, the black and white idea of this seems to be inclusive and beneficial to those who may need it, however, in less progressive governments. The questions asked to determine and 'solidify' one's queer status can be incredibly invasive and humiliating. It was something that heterosexual people would never have to face, especially when their wellbeing or even life was on the line. With the LGBTQ+ members being historically systematically oppressed, how can someone apart of it be expected to fight for credibility without being disheartened in these traumatic, unthinkable circumstances? 

 

In the UK, refugees face vast anxieties about the complex asylum process. Worries about accommodation, finances, education and access to legal advice can all be factors in this. Fears of being deported, destitution, detention and ending up on the streets are familiar with those seeking asylum in the UK. On top of all of this, the constant concern about those they have left behind and their wellbeing could also be detrimental to one's mental well-fare.

 

As we can imagine, the mental health issues that refugees and asylum seekers face can often be far more complex and unique than that of someone fortunate enough to be a part of the 'general population'. Even before the unimaginable act of actually migrating to a new country, the reasoning behind why this may be the only option could be detrimental to an individual's mental wellbeing, putting them in a very vulnerable headspace. Post-migration experiences can undoubtedly cause PTSD alongside an array of other convoluted needs. In particular, the male asylum seeker suicide rate in the UK is reflective of the atrocities they face whilst trying to create a better life for themselves. Research shows that suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50, a statement that is both alarming and distressing. This statistic, in correlation to the treatment or mistreatment of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the UK, suggests this statistic can sadly only rise. Many Asylum seekers flee to the UK as their origins are unaccepting of LGBTQ+ communities and actively try to prevent these communities from existing. Because of this, individuals mental health is severely and profoundly affected. Those seeking asylum are five times more likely to have mental health needs than the UK population. So, why is there seemingly less support for this sub-group?

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