Willkommen • Welcome • Bienvenue
The LGBT Counsellor Minden / LGBT Refugee Assistance Minden provides counselling
for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and inter* refugees in Minden-Lübbecke County.
LGBT Counselling in Minden is carried out by volunteers from the LGBT Community.
Even though our society had become more tolerant,
LGBT persons still often encounter derogatory remarks and discrimination.
With couselling and information we want to build a bridge
for tolerance in Minden and the County of Minden-Lübbecke!
We provide help, support and advice in many areas of life.
We hope that this homepage will provide guidance and support for
homosexual refugees as well as the workers and supporters of refugee support groups.
LGBT refugees come from states where they face arranged marriages, persecution, prison sentences or even torture and the death penalty.
LGBT refugees can experience problems in refugee camps due to their orientation.
Many LGBT refugees are in need of orientation and information.
LGBT refugees may face discrimination by other refugees if their sexual identity is revealed.
LGBT refugees often find it difficult to talk about their sexual identity openly, which can have an adverse effect on their request for asylum.
Persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation or identity is recognized as cause for asylum according to the European Union Qualification Directive 2011/95/EU.
Source of this partial overview: Manual for Support of LGBT Refugees, issued by ASB NRW e.V.
Make sure you take advantage of personal counselling before your official hearing!
The official hearing is the most important part of the asylum-seeking process and the only opportunity for you to present your reasons for fleeing from your home country. Intensive preparation is essential. Many people are not comfortable about talking about their sexual orientation or identity. They are not used to talking openly about such matters, especially not in front of strangers.
Others find it hard to accept their sexual orientation or identity. Even so, it is important that you present all your reasons for leaving in the official hearing. Counsellors can help you to prepare for the hearing and you have the right to take a companion with you to the hearing.
Having someone at your side giving you support and advice will give you strength and perseverance to handle the asylum process.
The film is a general introduction and cannot replace detailed legal counselling based on your personal ´circumstances!
What rights does the LGBTIQ community have in Germany?
In Germany, sexual orientation and gender identity are largely private matters. The state has to respect and protect your individual choices. This means that homosexual acts between consenting adults are not criminalised. In order to protect the health and safety of its LGBTIQ residents, Germany has passed a number of laws.
Since 1 October 2017, same-sex couples in Germany can also marry. Before that day, they could only register their union as "civil partnership", which did not grant them the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
LGBTIQ is an abbreviation that refers to people whose sexual or gender identity is non-traditional.
L means Lesbian (women who love women),
G means Gay (men who love men),
B means Bisexual (people who love both men and women),
T means Transgender (people who have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex),
I means Intersex (people who were born with bodies that don’t fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies), and
Q means Queer (any person with a non-traditional sexual or gender identity).
It is possible to apply for asylum in Germany based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. If you face problems during your asylum process or in your camp, you can seek help from LGBTIQ support groups.
Homosexuality and the Law
For many decades, homosexual acts were criminalised by German law. In the 20th century, the persecution of LGBTIQ people was largely based on section 175 of the German Criminal Code. From the 1970s onwards, this section wasn’t applied anymore. It was finally abolished in 1994. Since then, Germany has granted more rights to LGBTIQ people. Because they are often exposed to discrimination, harassment and violence, they receive special protection under the anti-discrimination law (“Antidiskriminierungsgesetz”). This law guarantees equal rights to all residents of Germany regardless of their sexual orientation. It also protects people from discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, gender, disability, religion, belief or philosophy of life, or age. The anti-discrimination law applies to all parts of life, e.g. the work place, public services and even the military.
Transgender and Intersex Rights
If the biological sex that you were assigned at birth doesn’t correspond with your gender expression, Germany allows you to officially change your documents as well as your body. This is called “transitioning” from male to female or from female to male. The process (including hormone treatment and sometimes surgery) usually takes many months. Since 2011, you are allowed to change the sex indicated on your official documents even if you haven’t undergone surgery yet or aren’t planning to do so.
In a lot of countries children who are born with bodies that don’t look clearly male or female, are still assigned a definite sex at birth. Since 2013, this is not mandatory in Germany any more. It is possible for parents to not register the sex of their children on their birth certificates.
LGBTIQ Asylum Seekers
In 2013 the European Court of Justice ruled that LGBTIQ persons have a right to asylum in the EU. Nevertheless, this remains a controversial issue. In Germany, you can apply for asylum based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, but the decision will very much depend on the situation in your country of origin. During the interview, you need to prove that you were living under direct threat because you are LGBTIQ. Criminalisation in itself isn’t enough to prove persecution.
During the interview, interviewers have the right to ask very personal questions about your identity and sex life. No clear guidelines for these interviews have been established so far. You have the right to request a male or female interviewer for the hearing. The interviewers often have specialised knowledge about persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. In any case, you should seek help from an LGBTIQ support group before filing an asylum request or attending an interview.
If you are transgender and have started hormone treatment, you have the right to continue your treatment as an asylum seeker. Your social welfare office (“Sozialamt”) and health insurance will have to cover these costs.
A lot of LGBTIQ people suffer harassment and abuse in refugee homes. As the German asylum system doesn’t take this into account, civil rights activists and grassroots organisations have started putting pressure on local authorities to offer more protection. In some German states, LGBTIQ asylum seekers are allocated separate flats. In Nuremberg and Berlin, there are special homes for LGBTIQ refugees, run by non-profit associations.
If you are LGBTIQ and need special protection, you have to declare your orientation or identity during the asylum process. Before you do so, you should contact an counseling Center which offers specific support for LGBTIQ refugees. If you face discrimination or harassment, you should contact the local anti-discrimination agency (“Antidiskriminierungsstelle”). Please note that camp administrations, housing services and the social welfare office are mostly unhelpful in these situations.