Queer Asylum and the EU Dublin III-Return System: Challenges and Risks

25. November 2021 – Online Symposium


The EU Dublin III-return system risks jeopardizing the transfer safeguards for LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers within the EU. This symposium examines the challenges the EU Dublin III-return system creates for LGBTIQ+ asylum claimants – particularly considering the increasingly politically motivated homo- and transphobia in some EU member states – and seeks to amplify best practices for the protection of LGBTIQ+ identifying asylum claimants within the EU. 

How are rights-based protections enshrined within the European Charter of Human Rights (ECHR) and that apply to LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers living in EU reception countries uphold in the context of Dublin III? How should human rights standards be guaranteed within national and local legal frameworks and practices. We ask. 

Sponsor: Gunda Werner Institute (Heinrich Böll Foundation)

Panel Discussion

Protection Standard Criteria for LGBTQI+ Asylum Claimants for Readmission to “Safe” EU Third Countries under Dublin III (CEAS)

Hate and violence against LGBT+ communities in Europe is on the rise, fuelling prejudice and hate. While Eastern European countries like Poland and Hungary have take legal action to curtail the rights and freedom of LGBTQI+ people, other European countries are witnessing open political homophobia (Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia etc.) that fuels societal anti-LGBTQI+ attitudes. These current anti-LGBTQI+ (as well as anti-gender movements) in large parts of Europe directly affect the safety of LGBTQI+ persons who are seeking asylum within the EU. At the same time, LGBTQI+ asylum claimants who have reached the EU-countries via one of these states and who have moved on to ‘less’ politically homophoic EU member states, risk to be sent back under Dublin III. This panel discusses the risks and challenges of Dublin III for the protection and safety of  LGBTQI+ persons seeking asylum within the EU. 

Moderation: Eirene Chen (Independent Specialist on SOGIESC Forced Displacement, formerly UNHCR) 

Panelists: Eleni Tsetsekou (Head of the SOGI Unit, Council of Europe); Akram Kubanychbekov (Senior Advocacy Officer, ILGA); Suma Abdelsamie (trans* activist and consultant); Ronja Corell (Asylum Lawyer, Munich) 


Building Networks of Solidarity between LGBTIQ+ movements in Germany and Eastern Europe

LGBTQI+ activists currently face growing opposition across Europe. The LGBTI community in Eastern Europe is increasingly exposed to institutional anti-gay rhetoric and homophobic societal attitudes, resulting in various forms of political and societal discrimination. Moreover, growing anti-LGBTQI+ coalition is closely linked to and feeds off the anti-gender movement. The latter is a vast network of actors mobilising against gender and sexual equality. Trans women are often the principal target of the anti-gender movement’s campaigns. They become scapegoats for societal changes around binary gender identities and sexual equality. This roundtable discusses possibilities for solidarity between LGBTQI+ organizations within Europe and with a focus on LGBTQI+ asylum claimants and refugees. 

ModerationDanijel Cubelic (ECCAR) and Lilith Raza (LSVD)

Bios of Panelists and Moderators

Suma Abdelsamie, is an Egyption trans refugee, trans activist and consultant  living in Berlin. After having worked as a PR manager and executive secretary for a dental company (2004 – 2010), Suma worked as the leader of the ‘Tea&Talk’ group in Istanbul for LGBTQI+ refugees, as a consultant for Emantes organization in Athens-Greece, and as a coordinator for RFSL Stockholm newcomers for LGBTQI+ refugees  (2017-2018). Suma is a board member of Trans Fest Stockholm (2019) and of trans newcomers Stockholm  (2017-2018), and she is the co-founder of several LGBTQI+ asylum networks, including Trans Newcomers Stockholm and the TGEU Trans Refugee Network. From 2018-2021, Suma was a guest lecturer at DIS study abroad in Scandinavia where she taught students about trans refugees challenges.

Milena Adamczewska-Stachura – a lawyer, holding an LLM in international human rights law, specializing in anti-discrimination law and protection of LGBT+ rights. From 2018 to 2020, in the Department of Equal Treatment in the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, responsible for all the cases related to SOGI, including strategic litigation against the so-called “LGBT-free zones”. Nowadays she coordinates the “Law Does Not Exclude” Fund which supports LGBT+ people in need of legal aid.

Eirene Chen, former consultant advisor on global LGBTIQ+ refugee protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Division of International Protection, is an international humanitarian and development specialist with over 20 years experience supporting forcibly displaced people in emergency and non-emergency contexts worldwide. A political sociologist by training and a member of the queer community, she has worked with United Nations entities, governments and civil society organizations on protection policies and programmes for LGBTIQ+ and other refugees, as well as on social integration, governance and civil society development initiatives in fragile and stable states. She is the daughter of refugees. 

Ronja Corell is a mediator and lawyer holding an LLM degree in European Law. After previous positions in Frankfurt and Geneva, she works since 2015 in Munich as a lawyer specialized in asylum law with an increased focus on the LGBTQI+ community. In her work, she considers herself not only as a lawyer but also as consultant and integrator for asylum seekers of all kinds. In her contribution to the panel she wants to create awareness for the implications of the Dublin procedure specifically for LGBTQI+ refugees.

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.

Biljana Ginova (they/them), Advocacy Manager at ERA . For almost 20 years, Biljana has been dedicated to improving the status and political visibility of different marginalized communities in North Macedonia. They are well networked with many LGBTIQ organizations and activists in the Western Balkans and Turkey region and beyond. They have co-founded and held positions in the Steering Boards of ERA and the European Lesbian* Conference contributing to providing their experience and practical knowledge in leadership, supervision and management, as well as advocacy, capacity building, and strengthening the relationships with donors and other stakeholders. As a recipient of a Chevening Award, they have obtained their MA from the University of Sussex, focusing their research in the field of queer international relations. (www.lgbti-era.org)

Tina Kolos Orban, was born, raised and is still based in Hungary, coming from a working class background. Tina Kolos as vice-president is responsible for the international relations and advocacy of the Transvanilla Transgender Association since 2011. They have been serving on Transgender Europe’s Board and on the International Trans Fund’s Grant Making Panel in the past.

Akram Kubanychbekov is a Senior Advocacy Officer at ILGA-Europe. Akram works on developing and implementing advocacy strategies and policy initiatives aimed at bringing legal, political and social change for LGBTI people across Europe and Central Asia, with a focus on hate crime and speech, asylum and migration, gender-based violence, Eastern Partnership countries and Central Asia.Akram holds a Master of Laws degree in International Human Rights Law from University of Essex, UK. Prior to joining ILGA-Europe, Akram worked in the Regional Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia as a Rule of Law Consultant. Since 2008, Akram is involved in LGBTI activism.

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 Germany” is to network the structures existing throughout Germany as well as refugee LGBTI activists and to support them in their work.

Eleni Tsetsekou, lawyer, specialist on minority issues and vulnerable groups. She is the Head of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit of the Council of Europe, whose mission is to fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation,  gender identity or expression and sex characteristics in Europe . She previously served in the Council of Europe on Roma and Travelers, responsible for the promotion of integration policies  and inclusion policies in member states of the Council of Europe. Roma women and girls were a particular focus of this work.

Knud Wechterstein is a founding member of the “Rainbow Refugees Frankfurt Verein” established in October 2015 and was a member of its board from 2016 – 2019. Knud is currently the coordinator of „Rainbow Refugees Support“ at the AIDS-Hilfe, Frankfurt. He further supports LGBT*IQ refugees with their asylum claims, and their access to queer groups as well as medical and psychological treatment. He further advices LGBT*QI refugees on issues pertaining to residence permits and employment.