In some countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) people are forced to flee because of their identity. Homophobic discrimination and the threat of violence on a daily basis can leave them with no choice but to seek safety and protection elsewhere.

Being an LGBTI refugee can add to the complex challenges and threats that a refugee faces after fleeing conflict. They need to find physical safety from war and conflict, whilst also being protected from threats and discrimination that can result from their LGBTI identity.

It remains a crime to be LGBTI in 77 countries worldwide and is punishable by death in at least seven countries. As a result, the number of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers is increasing, with most qualifying as "members of a particular social group" under the Refugee Convention.

“Until UNHCR helped him, he felt that every person he met was a monster"

Alan Cumming meets with LGBTI refugees

Scottish actor and writer Alan Cumming is a UNHCR High Profile Supporter. In September 2016 Alan travelled to Lebanon on his first mission, where he met Syrian refugees living in informal settlements and unfinished buildings.

During his visit, he learnt about UNHCR’s work protecting refugees who have fled their country but remain at risk of violence and persecution because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

At a centre for LGBTI people in Lebanon, actor Alan Cumming met a gay 19-year-old Syrian refugee, who said that he had been sexually assaulted at an early age. After militants tortured him and killed his family he fled to Lebanon. However he continues to live in fear of ongoing violence.

“In the middle of his story, he told me this intensely sad thing,” said Cumming. “Until UNHCR helped him, he felt that every person he met was a monster and thought there was no one in the world that would show him kindness. He now knows there are people who will show him kindness, but what a horrible place to be in when that’s what your experience has taught you.”

UNHCR High Profile Supporter Alan Cumming meets with LGBTI refugees at Zico House in Lebanon.

Image © UNHCR/ Jordi Matas

How UNHCR helps the LGBTI refugee community

UNHCR is a global leader in protecting vulnerable people fleeing violence, conflict and prejudice. UNHCR sensitively identifies LGBTI refugees and displaced people for immediate protection or resettlement and fosters supportive communities to protect LGBTI people who are at-risk.

Together with Australian support, UNHCR is helping some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees.

Donate Now

Khaled is accepted for urgent resettlement

Read Khaled's story

Alan Cumming's message to Australia

Watch Alan's message

Mohamed fled torture and is helping others

Read Mohamed's story

Share this:

facebook twitter

You can help

Make a donation

Every donation makes a real and lasting difference in the lives of refugees.

Organise a fundraiser

Host a bake sale, climb a mountain or do a fun run to raise funds for vital aid.