LGBT-FAN is an all-volunteer network of individuals and organizations, throughout the United States, who are dedicated to helping people who are seeking safety in the U.S. because of persecution of their sexual orientation or gender identity in their home countries.* We are asylum seekers and people who have already gained asylum, LGBT rights activists, faith leaders, LGBT community center staff, policy experts, scholars, and refugee resettlement workers. We seek to leverage the resources of our members to help each other with information and support.
Why is LGBT-FAN needed?
Thousands of people flee homphobic and transphobic persecution expecting to find safety in the United States, yet many face new hardships once they arrive. Under U.S. immigration policy, asylum seekers cannot access most medical or social service programs. It takes a minimum of six months before they can legally work. Many are forced into homelessness while their claim is processed. Many encounter new discriminations because of their race, language barriers, religion, and the fact that they are LGBT.
What does LGBT-FAN do?
- Provides a forum for learning and educating, and for connecting with others who are developing answers to the challenges we face as members of and advocates for LGBT asylum seeker/asylee communities
- Shares information and resources via our listserv (email group), Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through events programming
- Makes introductions between people/organizations that can help, and people who need support
- Educates the LGBT community about the needs of asylum seekers and how they can help
- Educates immigration and refugee professionals about the LGBT community
- Offers mutual encouragement and a sense of community to LGBT asylum seekers and advocates
How was LGBT-FAN set up?
LGBT-FAN first met in June 2012, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, the world’s largest annual transgender-specific conference. The Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM) provided initial coordination and support. The Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program, TransFaith, and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s United Nations Office joined ORAM on the planning committee. Since that initial meeting, the Network has evolved significantly, and has grown to engage people representing a wide range of organizations. We decided to change our name, from the LGBT Faith and Asylum Network to the LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network, in December 2014, to better reflect our diverse partnerships. For more information on this decision, see this press release.
The LGBT-FAN confirmed its Bylaws on November 20, 2014. (File opens as a pdf).
* Who does LGBT-FAN Assist?
Individuals accessing assistance may, or may not, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Many individuals who flee their countries because of their perceived sexual and/or gender non-conformity identify as queer, intersex, or any number of English and non-English language terms. Many others choose not to self-assign a label to their identity and expression until they enter the asylum process. LGBT-FAN’s assistance is inclusive to and affirming of individuals whose vocabulary and conceptualizations differ from the dominant paradigm but for whom the risks remain the same. Assistance is also available to human rights defenders who do not identify as LGBT but who have advocated on behalf of the LGBT community and who have fled their country after facing similar threats and/or abuses.
The pages below provide more information about the history, members and activities of LGBT-FAN, and the context in which we are working.