AsylumConnect Releases Improved Resource Catalog for LGBTQ Asylum
Katie Sgarro | May 24, 2019
For millions of persecuted LGBTQ people around the world, LGBTQ asylum represents a last chance to finally live freely and authentically. Despite this reality, LGBTQ asylum remains a complex and arduous process. In addition to facing challenges as asylum seekers, LGBTQ asylum seekers face unique obstacles due to their LGBTQ identity. They must confront homophobia and transphobia in healthcare, shelters and the wider social services sector. They are also forced to mitigate prejudice from fellow asylum seekers, immigration judges and translators. As a result, LGBTQ asylum seekers often struggle to access services in their new home which are both immigrant-friendly and LGBTQ-affirming.
“I know that I either leave this place or die. Any information will be very valuable to me as I am all by myself here. My only source is the internet.”
— David*, trans asylum seeker from the Middle East to AsylumConnect
“I am planning to move to the US to live like a normal human being without fear of persecution. Show me the way, I am beginning a new chapter in my life but I don’t know how to approach this.”
— Sara, gay asylum seeker from the Middle East to AsylumConnect
“I hope I can live a real social life with a man in a free and gay-friendly country. If I have a relationship with a guy in my home country I may get killed by police or even by my own family.”
— Andrew, gay asylum seeker from Northern Africa to AsylumConnect
In 2014, I personally “came out” to co-found AsylumConnect with my friend at the University of Pennsylvania, a LGBTQ asylum seeker himself, to fill this information gap. AsylumConnect is the first and only digital platform designed for LGBTQ asylum. Today, LGBTQ asylum seekers and related populations (such as undocumented LGBTQ immigrants and homeless LGBTQ youth) can use AsylumConnect as a free one-stop-shop to meet their needs in all aspects of their lives, including where it is safe to go for help with: housing, legal, food, medical, mental health, community support, translation, education and employment, and more. Lawyers and nonprofit direct service providers also use AsylumConnect to gather verified resource referrals for clients. Since launching our flagship product (the “AsylumConnect catalog”) in 2016, we’ve leveraged techonlogy to help over 10,000 unique users connect with verified safe LGBTQ- and immigrant-friendly services in the U.S.
With the Roddenberry Foundation’s support, on April 30th, 2019, we released an improved version of the first ever resource website and app for LGBTQ asylum. The AsylumConnect catalog now allows users to search for verified LGBTQ- and immigrant-friendly services in both the U.S. and Canada, and offers an improved user experience:
The new AsylumConnect catalog can now help users find verified LGBTQ-and immigrant-friendly services in the United States and Canada. The catalog can also connect those in Mexico and those outside of the U.S. and Canada with information and local LGBTQ-friendly services.
After selecting their country, the user enters their location into the resource catalog.
Next, the user selects the verified service type(s) they’re searching for. The U.S. catalog currently offers 27 subcategories across 13 service type categories.
Users can easily filter out services from their search results which require specific types of documentation (such as medical insurance, proof of age/income/residence) to access. Users can also choose to only view organizations who have a confidentiality policy and/or offer free services.
Each organization’s catalog profile page has more verified information on the organization’s mission, services offered and any non-English services available.
The Visit section of each organization’s catalog profile page has more information on how to contact the resource. The Reviews section displays any public ratings and reviews left by community members.
Users can also now click on any of the services listed on an organization’s profile page to learn more about a specific program. Each service page has more information on the specific program, including: a description of the service, who the service can help and the type of support offered.
Each service page also has more information on what is required and what is not required to access the specified service, any non-English services available, and how to visit the service.
When AsylumConnect reaches scale, there should never be a time when someone does not know where it is safe to go for help due to their LGBTQ identity or immigration status.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
About the Author
Katie Sgarro is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and the co-founder and president of AsylumConnect, a tech nonprofit providing the first ever digital platform for LGBTQ asylum. Learn more about Katie and AsylumConnect: http://asylumconnect.org