LGBT-FAN is 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 who feel called to this work by our diverse backgrounds.
Why is LGBT-FAN needed?
Thousands of people flee homphobic and transphobic persecution expecting to find safety in North America, yet many face new hardships once they arrive. In the U.S., asylum seekers are not allowed to use 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. They can experience new discriminations because of their race, language barriers, and the fact that they are LGBT.
What does LGBT-FAN do?
- Offers mutual encouragement and a sense of community to LGBT asylum seekers and advocates
- Provides a forum for learning and educating around LGBT asylum
- Shares information and resources
- Makes introductions between people who 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
- Provides new ways for donors to help LGBT asylum seekers
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 grown to engage people representing a wide range of organizations, most of whom focus on LGBT communities and faith in some way, and many of whom had never partnered before.
The LGBT-FAN confirmed these Bylaws on November 20, 2014. (File opens as a pdf).
We were originally named the LGBT Faith and Asylum Network, but decided to change our name in December 2014 to better reflect that we work with both secular and faith-based organizations. For more information on this decision, see our press release.
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 or intersex, and many others choose not to self-assign a label to their identity and expression. 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.