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Enhancing UNHCR Protection for LGBTI Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Morocco: Reflection and Strategies

  • Nicholas Hersh
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter suggests that while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has made great strides in delivering protection services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) asylum-seekers and refugees, room for improvement remains. An illustrative example is Morocco, where laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships are rigorously enforced and LGBTI individuals are vulnerable to widespread violence and discrimination. As such, LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees in Morocco face heightened security risks on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Many turn to the UNHCR for protection as well as specialized services to meet their housing, medical, and financial needs, and resettlement. Questioning how UNHCR-Rabat can provide LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees with meaningful access to its protection services, this chapter begins with an overview of the legal and political context for asylum-seekers and refugees as well as common experiences of LGBTI individuals in Morocco. It then identifies and proposes suggestions for UNHCR to strengthen its policies of confidentiality and non-discrimination towards asylum-seekers and in delivering services to LGBTI persons of concern during registration, working with partner service organizations to identify LGBTI refugees and their specialized needs in terms of housing, healthcare, and financial services. Finally, this chapter reflects on advocacy efforts for increased resettlement of LGBTI refugees if safety for them in Morocco remains illusory. Many of the recommendations in this chapter can also be applied in other countries where LGBTI refugees require improved access to UNHCR’s protection services.

Keywords

Sexual orientation and gender identity Refugee UNHCR Morocco 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Nicholas is thankful for the valuable feedback of a previous version of this chapter from Johannes Van der Klaauw, Former Representative of UNHCR-Morocco, Michael Casasola, Senior Resettlement Officer of UNHCR-Canada, and former colleagues of UNHCR-Morocco. The opinions in this chapter are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Community Legal Services of OttawaOttawaCanada

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