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Home Accommodation Support Association – Kotimajoituksen tuki ry – co-organizes with Helsinki Pride an event on home accommodation for LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers

Asylum seekers have numerous reasons to seek home accommodation, on which they live in a local home instead of a reception center. This advances their integration into the local community, allows them to improve language skills and get to know local people.

Home Accommodation Support Association supports this process. Facilitating home accommodation for LGBTIQ+ people is one of the organization’s priorities.

People with multiple marginalized identities, like LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers, may suffer multiple discrimination and be at increased risk of harassment, hate speech, and hate crimes. Some asylum applications specifically relate to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. In addition, many people seeking international protection on other grounds also belong to sexual or gender minorities.

Even in Finland, the rights of the LGBTIQ+ people are not fully realized. For example, not all officials working with asylum seekers have an adequate understanding of the diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Research by Inka Söderström highlights that asylum seekers may be expected to conform to certain narratives or appearance during credibility assessments by the Finnish Immigration Service. These expectations can be based on stereotypes, such as assuming a long-term monogamous same-sex relationship. However, experiences, paths, and relationship forms vary widely. ILGA-Europe’s recent report also sheds light on problems faced by LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers, including requirement of a narrative centred around identity, stigma, and shame. Another issue highlighted by ILGA-Europe is the difficulties transgender asylum seekers and refugees face in accessing gender-affirming healthcare.

In addition to the risk of negative asylum decisions, applicants may experience anxiety, exploitation, and violence while awaiting a decision. Reception centers, where most asylum seekers stay, are not always safe places for LGBTIQ+ people. Instead, they might face prejudice, discrimination, and even violence both within reception centers and in society at large. Questioning of their gender or sexual orientation within a reception center may cause stress and anxiety. As a result, many may choose to stay in the closet.

For these reasons, many LGBTIQ+ people seek different kinds of private accommodation arrangements as alternative to staying in reception center. Unfortunately, in some cases, these arrangements might expose them to various forms of exploitation or violence.

Home accommodation is provided voluntarily and without compensation and offers a more equal and mutually agreed-upon living arrangement. However, it’s essential to consider potential risks related to home accommodation, prevent problems, and address any concerns promptly. Ensuring safety is a priority for Kotimajoituksen tuki ry and you can read more about the issue here.

Many of the home accommodation residents are in a vulnerable situation for a variety of reasons, which may not only increase their risk of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment, but can also reduce their ability to respond to situations where these occur. The Home Accommodation Network and its’ support association therefore considers it very important to be aware of the potential risks associated with home accommodation in order to prevent and respond to problematic situations.

”A significant portion of people contacting us to find home accommodation are LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers. We help those seeking and offering home accommodation to meet each other, we support them before and during the accommodation, and provide advice, guidance and training,” says Terhi Aaltonen, Executive Director of the Home Accommodation Support Association.

Aaltonen emphasizes that privacy and safety are crucial for people in vulnerable situation, who may have faced insecurity and challenging circumstances. ”For LGBTIQ+ individuals, safe home accommodation also means the assurance that they can be openly themselves,” Aaltonen adds. The organization reminds that hosting LGBTIQ+ people requires sensitivity and understanding of issues related to sexual and gender diversity.

The Home Accommodation Support Association, in collaboration with Pride Helsinki, organizes an information session to explain the basics of home accommodation and specific issues related to LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers and hosting them.

The event ”Home accommodation for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers” will be organized on Tuesday, June 25th, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (at HOBO Helsinki – Playground Kluuvikatu 4).

We’ll cover the basics of home accommodation and specific issues related to hosting LGBTIQ+ people. A person who has lived in and another one who has provided home accommodation will share their experiences.

We welcome people seeking home accommodation, those who consider becoming hosts, as well as anyone interested in the topic.

The event will be organized in English, but also Finnish can be used on the discussion.

There are many significant ways to support asylum seekers in Finland and offering home accommodation is one of them.