Panel #2

Isolation and Trauma

The second panel on isolation and trauma addressed the manner in which COVID-19 can exacerbate the isolation of LGBTQI+ persons seeking asylum and refugees and could potentially re-trigger trauma. What does social isolation/social distancing mean for LGBTQI+ refugees? How could COVID-19 re-trigger trauma and affect mental and physical health? What does safety mean for LGBTQI+ refugees in light of the pandemic? How does this affect work opportunities? How does COVID-19 affect visions of the future?


Danijel Benjamin Ćubelić is Head of Antidiscrimination at the Office for Equal Opportunities of the City of Heidelberg, Germany. He serves on the advisory board for “Acceptance and Equal Rights” of the state of Baden-Württemberg and as a deputy board member of the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. He is also an adjunct lecturer at the Department for the Study of Religions, Heidelberg University and Speaker of the Islam research group of the German Association for the Study of Religions. Since January 2020, he is managing director of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism.


Lilith Raza is a transwoman with migration background. She is working for the rights of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers in Germany since 2015. Since November 2017, she is working for the German wide LSVD e.V Project “Queers Refugees Deutschland”. The aim of the new LSVD project “Queer Refugees Deutschland” is to network the structures existing throughout Germany as well as refugee LGBTI activists and to support them in their work.

Rzouga Selmi is a non-binary Tunisian refugee LGBT*IQ+ activist  former executive office member of the first Tunisian Queer organisation, the tunisian organization for justice and equality DAMJ, and a MSM sexual health peer educator. Rzouga fled to Germany and sought asylum inDecember  2017 where they started advocating for queer refugees rights and engaged with PLUS e.V Mannheim and started volunteering as the queer refugees group leader. They also use their drag platform for raising awareness about Queer rights in the Middle East and north Africa.

Julia Serdarov has an MA in Political Sciences. She is an activists in antiracist and queer-feminist movements and worked in different NGOs (Bayerischer Flüchtlingsrat, Interventionsstelle für Opfer Häuslicher Gewalt, LeTRa). She is involved in LGBTI refugee counseling, press work and campaigns as well as lobby work.

Ibrahim Willeke, gay activist from Lebanon, arrived in Germany at the end 2015 after having survived being thrown off the third floor because of his sexuality. In 2016, he founded SOFRA Cologne, the first LGBTIQ self-organized group from and for LGBTIQ refugees. He was granted subsidiary protection in 2017. He is currently in charge for documenting cases of violence against LGBTIQ refugees in NRW at Rubicon in Cologne. In 2019 he got married to the man of his dreams. Today, Ibrahim Willeke fights for the visibility and the rights of LGBTIQ refugees in Germany.