QLM - Queer Life in the Migration Society

We are glad to build up a centre of expertise in the field of LSBTIQ* in context of migration, where neither the sexual orientation and gender identity nor the ethnic or cultural heritage of queer BPoC are rejected.

In July 2016, the (NVBF) the lower Saxony network for LGBTI-Refugees was initiated. However, in recent years it has become clear that there is also a need for a specialized connection point for the LSBTIQ * topic, not only in the context of fleeing, but also in second and third generation migrant contexts. In the course of the past few years, the NVBF has been increasingly visited by people born and raised in Germany who have not found any counselling services who are familiar with their multiple affiliations and can respond adequately to their needs. In order to be able to be a point of connection for these people in the future, and above all to be able to incorporate the subject of LSBTIQ * into the structures of social and political migration work as well as into the migrant self-organizations, the NVBF has been expanded to include the larger work area of migration. Under the new name QLM - Queer Life in the Migration Community, a competence centre will be established at the interface of LSBTIQ * and migration.

If you look at the current data, it becomes clear that such a competence centre was long overdue. For current live in Lower Saxony, nearly 8 million people, of which 1.6 million have a migration context. In the larger towns of the country, even every fourth child has a migration context. It can be assumed that within this large group between 90,000 – 120,000 are LGBTIQ *. The life situation of these people is as different as their origin itself. It is noticeable, however, that many LGBTIQ * with a migration context are more defined by their migration experiences than by their sexual orientation. This mis definition is comprehensible based on the background that the migration context is often apparent and attributed in the public space with certain features. The individual is often perceived and treated as a „foreigner“. Sexual orientation, on the other hand, is usually when it comes to be known then that is called outing. However, this outing is often avoided because of fear of possible disadvantage or lack of an opportunity. It remains true that, regardless of the context of migration, almost a third of people in the workplace do not address their same-sex orientation.

Why is QLM important?

The localization via the migration background makes the accessibility of the target group LSBTIQ * with a migration context difficult for the offers of existing institutions. In dominance society, migrants are not only read as non-German, but also as heterosexuals. Discrimination experience as a migrant often leads to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by the families of origin. These come in part from countries where homosexuality is still being prosecuted today. An outing to the family or the community is therefore associated with the risk of being excluded from the family of origin. Especially in-migrant communities the attitude towards the family must be considered. Those affected often react with a game of hide-and-seek, isolate themselves or adapt to extraordinarily fragile lifestyles. The previous consultations dealt with tales of inner rejection of same-sex orientation, multiple discrimination, experiences of violence, depression and suicide attempts.

Both the attitudes of the family environment as well as racism and discrimination in the social spaces in Germany, which shape everyday life, burden the physical and mental health of many LGBTIQ * with a migration context. In the majority society, LSBTIQ * with a migration context at counselling centres and authorities repeatedly come up against a lack of intercultural and transcultural knowledge and skills. The networks and self-organizations of migrants, on the other hand, often taboo the subject of LGBTIQ * and locate it as a phenomenon of Western societies. Anti-discrimination work is therefore one-dimensional on both sides and mutual prejudices remain. Self-help structures or institutions that combine both elementary spheres of life did not previously exist in Lower Saxony.

We look forward to establishing QLM, a centre of competence for LGBTIQ * with a migration context, in which neither their origins nor their sexual orientation and gender identity are rejected. Here qualifications for migration- and civic-specific topics meet subject-specific competences for LGBTIQ * and consulting competences. The offers of the Competence Centre QLM are aimed at individuals as well as specialists in social work, public authorities, associations and associations.

The workshop and seminar offerings of the new competence centre work with culture-sensitive strategies that consider the family and social evaluation. QLM relies on dialogue, encounter and reasoning. The central educational goal is to offer the topic of LSBTIQ * with approaches to diversity education and to open new approaches for migrant communities, to reduce prejudices and to create a climate of appreciation for diversity. Associations of migrant self-organization and social work specialists, as well as authorities, can turn to QLM. We are happy to develop suitable concepts for the respective target groups and implement corresponding measures.

The cooperation partners

QLM is a project in cooperation between VNB e.V. and Andersraum e.V. and is funded by the state of Lower Saxony. The competences of the cooperation partners include dealing with the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identities as well as experiences with people from different cultures and the knowledge of their living conditions and experiences of flight and expulsion. Thus, an intersectional approach that considers both the experiences of discrimination based on racism and homosexual or transgender or intersexuality.

The Andersraum in Hannover is the place for non-heteronormative ways of life. The basis of the work in the Andersraum is on the one hand the volunteering of over twenty self-help groups based in the Andersraum and on the other hand the development of many counselling services, of the first qualified counselling service for transsexual people in Lower Saxony.

The VNB has many years of varied experience in the area of ​​refugee and migration work with various cooperation partners at provincial, federal and EU level. In the nationwide network project AMBA – reception management and counselling of asylum seekers in Lower Saxony (promoted inter alia by the Asylum, Integration and Migration Fund of the EU and the state of Lower Saxony), the VNB develops and tests concepts for receiving refugees. In practice, this includes the qualification and further training of the bodies involved in the admission process, further training courses for cooperation partners as well as dissemination of the results developed in the project. In this context, the VNB organized the first workshop in Lower Saxony on gender-specific causes of migration on 9 October 2015. In addition, the VNB has been offering seminars for the qualification of senior and voluntary workers in refugee work for many years in cooperation with the Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen e.V.