An LGBT person feels unsafe in their country. Can I help?

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Some countries violate their human rights. In some places sex that is not between a man and a woman is forbidden. In other places it is not illegal but there is a lot of prejudice and that can be dangerous as well. Not every country can or wants to protect its LGBT subjects. 
You know someone who lives outside Belgium and feels unsafe. Your acquaintance is being threatened or  being prosecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. You want to do somehing to help. What can you do?

It is important to know that every situation, every country and every person isdifferent. Two people from the same country can take different approaches. Your acquaintance who feels unsafe, is the best judge of the situation. Listen to their story. Ask them what would be a fitting solution. Don't presume to know their situation. Don't think you know what the other wants. You can accompany someone in their search for safety, but you cannot decide for them what they have to do.

Your acquaintance wants to stay in their country

 Your acquaintance is an activist voor gay and transgender rights or a defender of human rights. Their plan is to stay (for the time being) in their own country. People can run a higher risk because of their activism. That is why there are organisations who help activists to protect themselves better. 

Protection International and  Front Line Defenders offer practical means and strategies for activists who want to increase their security. Protection International has Protection Desks in a number of countries. Front Line Defenders has an emergency line and a practical manual about safety. ILGA-Europe has from December 2012 a program 'Dignity for All'. It offers emergency funds and guidance for Human Rights defenders in need. Moreover, in a lot of countries there are Human Rights organisations and LGBT associations. You can find them through ILGA, the global collection of LGBT associations.

Your acquaintance wants to flee the country

It is possible to ask asylum in Belgium if you are prosecuted in your own country on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity but it's not that simple to apply for asylum or getting accepted. Through European agreements somebody cannot choose in which country to apply for asylum. These European agreements are called the Dublin Convention. You can find more information about the Dublin regulation on the website van Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen. Knnow that not everybody gets recognized as asylum seeker and that an asylum procedure can be tough. Most of the asylum requests are rejected. 

How can you make sure your acquaintance has a good chance on a positive outcome? Be prepared. From the start of the asylum procedure it is best to contact organisations and lawyers that have helped LGBT asylum seekers before. Gain legal advice about asylum for LGBT people. It can also be useful to gain information about the situation of LGBT people in the country your acquaintance wants to flee.  Collect as much information as possible and start as soon as possible. Deliver all useful documents that show why your acquaintance wanted to flee the country, to the proper asylum institutions.

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