‘Coffee with: Queer Refugees’
Last Thursday 28th of January our Coffee with on ‘Queer refugees: the untold stories’ took place. The online event was a success. Around 40 people listened to the stories that our guests’ speakers told, and the MEPs’ work they are doing from the European Institutions.
The speakers were the following:
Djenk Ejup - member of the Queer Refugee Committee in Brussels
Evin Incir - MEP for Socialists & Democrats
Malin Björk - MEP and vice president of the LGBTQI Intergroup
Petrus Theunisz - Human Rights expert
Harris Eloy - Project Manager of Newcomers Youth, a project supporting LGBTQI youth in Sweden with asylum experience
Alexandra Politidis Palm - Lawyer and migration policy expert
During the event, we heard the personal stories of queer refugees looking for asylum in Belgium and the difficulties they encountered during the bureaucratic processes. They spoke of the challenging situation they faced living in their own countries being openly recognised as gay and their motives to look for asylum in a foreign country. Luckily they found people willing to help them in their way, even if that meant putting themselves at risk.
We had the chance to speak with members of an organisation whose aim is to support LGBTQI youth in Sweden with asylum experience: Newcomers Youth. They are doing their best to help all those queer refugees that arrive in Sweden, and on some occasions, they go beyond their capacities. Sadly they claim that the current system is not correctly working. Against this, these organisations cannot do much but help. Changing and improving the system is the only real solution.
MEPs Evin Incir and Malin Björk helped us understand their work inside the European Parliament. With a foot outside the European Parliament to listen to citizens, and with the other foot inside the Parliament, they are doing their best to create new laws to protect refugees looking for asylum. Making laws is a slow process that works in the long run. Meanwhile, they encourage citizens to participate in activist campaigns because it will push institutions to make faster law changes. Sometimes the authorities might not understand how to interpret the law, and they need the help of the society to teach them and make them aware through our activism.
There is more to be achieved, but we need to acknowledge that there have also been positive steps. They encourage us to speak up our minds and be loud if we wish the situation for queer refugees to change.