(Ir)reconcilable identities: Stories of religion and faith for sexual and gender minority refugees who fled from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia to the European Union.

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Religion can be an important aspect of identity for refugees, yet may be a complex phenomenon for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) refugees, as it has often been used to oppress them in their countries of origin. This qualitative study sought to understand how 34 LGBTQ refugees who fled to Austria and the Netherlands from Islamic societies described and understood experiences arising from the their religious and sexual or gender identities. Semistructured interviews were conducted to examine participants’ religious experiences before, during, and after migration. The researchers used thematic analysis to identify four themes: Internalizing religious messaging: shame, self-blame, and suicidality; rejecting organized religion; ‘I only had God’: drawing strength and solace from one’s faith; and reclaiming Islam in one’s own way. Participants grappled with conflict between their religious and LGBTQ identities in their countries of origin; however, their understandings of these identities in the host country differed. The majority out rightly rejected their religious backgrounds and identities. However, religion supported others through the difficulties of migration and resettlement, enabling them to reconcile their faith and sexual or gender identities by adapting their religious practices. Implications for clinical practice are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology

Keywords

  • LGBTQ refugees
  • identity
  • religion
  • thematic analysis

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