Joe, also known as Josefine, is involved in the project Artikel 21, which supports refugees from the LGBTQIA+ community in the asylum process. She herself fled from Syria to Germany in 2015. We meet at Joe’s home, sit on the balcony and eat the various snacks Joe has prepared.
What experiences did you have with health care during your asylum procedure in Germany?
I didn’t feel well at all: I didn’t feel safe and my queer identity was denied to me. Queer refugees are put into collective accommodation in Germany and are very alone there and have no access to the queer community. There are perpetrators, homophobic and transphobic people there. The place where you are supposed to have the possibility to withdraw is unsafe. Moreover, the asylum procedure is based on a heteronormative system.
„I was very afraid of the future“
What is the impact of this?
This means, for example, that in the personal interview in the asylum procedure, there are people and translators present who have not been not sensitised. During my first interview, things were written down in the protocol that I did not say. My appearance with a beard was used to infer that I can’t be queer. I also get looked at strangely on the street. This has led to me suffering from depression.
Did you have any support?
My accommodation had no counselling centre for queer people.The staff of the accommodation were able to help me after I had experienced or witnessed violence. Social workers are not educated about the queer community. I was always told to inform the police. This made me very upset. I was very afraid of the future. My health was not good.
„“Artikel 21″ shines a light on these problems“
Where you able to seek medical support?
Medical care is accessible in a very limited way. In 2015, there were no insurance cards, but treatment vouchers instead and it was not possible to just see doctors like usual. You are dependent on the given time frames. In the asylum process, there are trans* people who are at an important point in their transition and don’t get any support.
How did you get involved in the “Artikel 21” project?
„Artikel 21“ shines a light on these problems and draws particular attention to the situation of refugees from the LGBTQIA+ community in the asylum process. I know about the project from other organisations like Refugees Sisters or Queer Refugees Support. I got help there and that sparked my motivation to help other people who suffer from the situation in the same way. In the project, queer people talk about their experiences in the asylum process.
What are you asking for?
We are asking for shelters especially for queer people and protection from the first day of the asylum procedure. We have also started a petition for this. We want protection to actually happen and for the traumatisation not to continue. We want to question the system of initial admission. Protection is needed right from the first moment. We demand access to counselling centres and training for the staff involved in the asylum process, as well as better medical and psychological care. When we organise exhibitions, there is always an open list as an opportunity to share further demands and ideas. Something is aways added. That helps us move forward.
This article was also published in German.
- Image: privat