I wrote a report, for the benefit of humanity, or at least a portion of it.

My report aims to better understand and address the unique experiences and needs of same sex attracted, sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) young people who are recently arrived, refugees or seeking asylum in Australia.

You can read the report here: http://www.glhv.org.au/sites/www.glhv.org.au/files/2016-09/somethingforthem.pdf

HOWEVER- because I'm a good person, and if you're anything like me you only read the most important bits of anything, so here's some of that below:

Mejia-Canales, D. and Leonard, W. (2016) Something for them: Meeting the support needs of same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) young people who are recently arrived, refugees or asylum seekers. Monograph Series No. 107. GLHV@ARCSHS, La Trobe University: Melbourne. 

Something for them aims to better understand and address the unique experiences and needs of same sex attracted, sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) young people who are recently arrived, refugees or seeking asylum in Australia.

Background

This report provides a review of Australia’s domestic and international legal obligations to SSASGD young people who are recently arrived, refugees or seeking asylum, and also of the legal and social status of sexual and gender identity minorities in their countries of origin.

It documents four SSASGD young people’s experiences of migration and recent arrival in Australia and the results of studies of SSASGD young people’s migration experiences in countries similar to Australia.

The report uses these findings and those of an earlier, pilot project to develop an evidence-based framework for understanding the situation and complex forces that are at play in the lives of recently arrived SSASGD young people.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for government and services in the migrant, refugee and LGBTI-community sectors aimed at maximising the quality and effectiveness of support provided to these young people. Belonging All our respondents talked of the importance of belonging in Australia and the difficulties they faced in living and moving between different communities of identity that hold different and sometimes contradictory understandings of LGBTI people.

Our findings and those of similar studies overseas clearly show that SSASGD young people’s sexuality or gender identity is not an add-on to their migration experiences but are intimately bound to their sense of feeling welcome and at home in their country of arrival.

Family relationships

Family and familial connection are extremely important to many of the cultures and communities of origin to which recently arrived SSASGD young people belong. Recently arrived SSASGD young people in Australia and overseas report that:  

They experience intense personal conflict between expressing their sexual feelings or gender diverse identity and meeting their family’s traditional sexed and gendered expectations

Being out or being outed often leads to hostility and rejection by family members both pre- and post-migration. They experience high levels of and ongoing stress and fear about the potential effects of being out on their personal wellbeing and that of their relatives, including bringing shame and dishonour on their family; and  For some, exploring or expressing their minority sexual or gender diverse identity necessarily involves a radical break from their family.

Connection to culture and community of origin

Connection to culture and community of origin can provide a continuity of identity and belonging that mitigates the loss of control and dislocation often associated with migration. For recently arrived SSASGD young people maintaining these connections can prove difficult due to:

  • Rejection, alienation and sometimes ongoing violence from members of their community of origin pre- and post-migration
  • Pressure from elements within their community of origin, the mainstream and the LGBTI community to identify, primarily, with a minority cultural identity, which can make it more difficult to explore or express their sexuality or gender diversity; and
  • The opportunities and fears that legal recognition of LGBTI people in Australia bring, including if, when and how to live openly as LGBTI within and across intersecting cultures and communities.

Faith and religious affiliation

Religious affiliation and religious faith provide many recently arrived migrants with a continuity and powerful sense of collective and personal worth as they move between countries, cultures and communities.

Our study and similar research overseas show, however, that for many recently arrived SSASGD young people religious beliefs and practices that are hostile to sexual and gender identity diversity are a source of deep distress and hurt. Some recently arrived SSASGD young people report that they:

  • Find it impossible to reconcile the tension between their religion and their sexual orientation or gender diverse identity, having to choose one at the expense of the other; or
  • Retreat from communal religious practices and events but continue to exercise their faith in private. In Australia, however, there is growing support within mainstream, ethnic and migrant communities to reconsider the relationships between religious faith, cultural practices and the law in ways that acknowledge LGBTI people without excluding or vilifying them.

Recommendations

The following recommendations are divided into four key areas that are consistent with social justice principles and the framework developed in this report. Maximising the quality of support provided to recently arrived SSASGD young people depends on a coordinated response between government and support services. 

The report recommends that Government:

  • Consider changes to the Migration Act and related legislation and policies to minimise the risks specific to recently arrived SSASGD young people, including:
    • Protections against resettling them in countries where same sex attracted and gender diverse identities or practices are illegal or where the social environment is deeply hostile to LGBTI people
    • Reforming assessment processes for protection claims by recently arrived SSASGD young people to bring them in line with best practice.
    • Consideration of protections against recently arrived SSASGD young people being sent ‘home’ to undergo ‘reparative’ or ‘gay conversion’ therapies or being coerced into undertaking such therapies in Australia x Grant LGBTI Australians full legal equality, including recognition of their familial and committed, intimate relationships.  
       
  • Remove religious exemptions from Commonwealth, State and Territory laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or, failing the removal of religious exemptions, require all service providers to commit to not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and/or commit to actively affirming LGBTI people; and  
  • Enact or strengthen legal provisions against harassment and vilification directed at an individual or group on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Social policy

The report recommends that Government:

  • Include sexual and gender identity minorities in all diversity policies and policies that address the population effects of systemic discrimination
  • Review policies across the migrant, refugee, youth, multicultural and LGBTI sectors to include recently arrived SSASGD young people where appropriate
  • Assist non-government agencies that provide support services to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to address the situation and needs of recently arrived SSASGD young people  
  • Provide opportunities to assist recently arrived SSASGD young people develop supportive and respectful relationships within their local communities and beyond  
  • Facilitate discussions among representatives of faith-based organisations, multicultural bodies and LGBTI-community organisations about the relationships between culture, religious faith and sexual and gender identity minorities; and
  • Establish a body with representatives from faith-based organisations, multicultural bodies, LGBTI community and youth organisations tasked with improving the health and wellbeing of SSASGD young people, including those who are recently arrived, refugees or asylum seekers. Capacity building

This report recommends that essential services, including education, employment and housing:

  • Develop culturally diverse, LGBTI-inclusive practices
  • Develop links and referral pathways with LGBTI, migrant, multicultural and youth agencies that have expertise in working with SSASGD young people; and
  • Provide information to SSASGD young people and, where needed, face-to-face service provision, in languages other than English.

The report recommends that migrant and multicultural services increase their capacity to identify, work with and provide support to recently arrived SSASGD young people by:  

  • Developing information, resources and training on LGBTI issues generally and on the issues specific to recently arrived SSASGD young people
  • Developing links, common resources, training and cross-referral pathways with LGBTI-community organisations and, where appropriate, LGBTI-accredited counselling and support services
  • Ensuring settlement workers and agencies overseas have the knowledge, capacity and resources to provide clients with information on the current legal and social status of LGBTI people in Australia and of Australia’s obligations toward people seeking asylum on the basis of their minority sexual orientation or gender identity; and  
  • Employing case managers to assist recently arrived SSASGD young people navigate the service system and access the range of services they need.
  • The report recommends that LGBTI organisations, and in particular those that target SSASGD young people, work with migrant and multicultural support services to develop:
  • Culturally inclusive practices and models of service delivery, where possible; and
  • Resources and cross-referral pathways for recently arrived SSASGD young people who need increased support to address cultural, religious, familial or community of origin issues.

The report recommends that Government:  

  • Gather information on the range of migrant, multicultural, youth and LGBTIsupport services available to recently arrived SSASGD young people
  • Develop and publicise referral networks for recently arrived SSASGD young people among the range of services currently available
  • Identify gaps in current support services and develop links between support and essential services for this group of young people; and
  • Provide funding and resources to establish a safe house for recently arrived SSASGD young people who are subject to homophobic or transphobic violence or fear of such violence. Research

The report recommends further research on:

  • The health and wellbeing of SSASGD young people who are part of communities that hold religious and/or cultural beliefs hostile to sexual orientation and gender identity minorities
  • The lived experiences of recently arrived SSASGD young people with a focus on recruitment strategies aimed at increasing the number of participants overall and those who identify as female and same sex attracted, and as sex and gender diverse; and
  • Recently arrived SSASGD young people’s service-seeking behaviours.

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