A Qualitative Exploration of the Integration Experiences of LGBTQ Refugees Who Fled from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and South Asia to Austria and the Netherlands

Edward J. Alessi, Sarilee Kahn, Brett Greenfield, Leah Woolner, Dean Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The European Union accepted more than one million refugees from Muslim-majority countries in 2015. However, Islamophobic social conditions have created numerous hardships as they attempt to integrate into European society. This situation may be especially challenging for refugees identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). They not only experience discrimination from multiple sources but also lack connections with their diaspora communities. This qualitative study examined the experiences of LGBTQ refugees who migrated from Islamic societies to Austria (n = 19) and the Netherlands (n = 19). We conducted semi-structured interviews to understand how they experienced integration. Additionally, we interviewed five LGBTQ refugee service providers to triangulate data and enrich findings. We identified the following themes: precarious livelihoods, the complexity of depending on others, still not free, and you’re Muslim; we don’t want you. Findings indicated that participants experienced uncertainty regarding the asylum process, including issues related to the Dublin Regulation. Although participants relied on host community members to ease integration, they also encountered discrimination based on race, religion, and immigration status. In Vienna, this discrimination was experienced as overt, whereas in Amsterdam, it was subtler. Participants also encountered discrimination based on their sexual and gender identity from other refugees, compromising their ability to receive services needed to facilitate integration. The article concludes with recommendations for promoting the integration of LGBTQ refugees into the European Union.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Dublin Regulation
  • European Union
  • Integration
  • Islamophobia
  • LGBTQ refugees

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