Colega Madrid, the LGBT collective of Madrid, offered the public a successful round table today at the headquarters of the Programa LGBT de la Comunidad de Madrid. The round table raised awareness of the reality of LGBT asylum-seekers with the help of two expert lawyers on the subject, Elena Muñoz and Manuel Ródenas.
Almost two years ago, the word “refugee” entered Spanish and European society. Middle Eastern conflict resulted in the arrival of millions of people at the borders of the European Union. The media told of the Union’s terrible management and passivity.
What people don’t know is that our country was already an entrance point for a specific collective of refugees. It’s a group that doesn’t usually appear in the news, perhaps because it doesn’t “sell” as well as armed conflict does. The group is made up of those who ask for asylum because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity: LGBT refugees.
These people have viewed our country as an oasis where their most fundamental human rights are respected. In our country they found a place where they can manifest their love and identities freely, without running the risk of incarceration, torture, or assassination. In short, they found a country where they can live in peace.
First-hand information to raise awareness
Colega believes that Spanish society doesn’t know the reality of these people or why they look for refuge within our borders. For this reason, Colega organized this activity: we wanted to increase the visibility of LGBT refugees and to provide the pubic with a clear vision of the discourse of fear offered by certain media sources.
To explain this delicate topic, we organized a panel of experts: Elena Muñoz, specialized attorney of the Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado – CEAR, and our host, Manuel Ródenas, specialized attorney of the Programa LGBT de la Comunidad de Madrid.
The panel was supported by questions from the audience of students, social workers, refugees … More than twenty people took advantage of the subsequent colloquium to voice their doubts and present different arguments on this topic.
It’s not easy to arrive… or to stay
For Samir Bargachi, president of Colega, this is a unique opportunity to show the madrileña community the torturous path that LGBT refugees have to take to arrive at our borders and, often, to remain within them.
“Only this will change the mentality of many people, along with the reminder that refugees have fled their countries, not because they wanted to, but rather because their lives and possibly those of their families were threatened,” declared the president of the collective.
Colega Madrid would like to thank the Programa LGBT de la Comunidad de Madrid for providing us with the space and support needed to realize this activity. We hope to continue collaborating with them on activities like this one in the future.