• Syrian migrants Steve, Auz and Enana after a news conference with Berlin's Lesbian and Gay Union in January 2016, the city's Archbishop was also present. (AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ)Source: AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ
“In Hamburg, for the first time, I learned what it means to be free. I found myself. Now I can start my life," wrote one Syrian refugee.
By
Ben Winsor

13 Jan 2017 - 11:57 AM  UPDATED 13 Jan 2017 - 11:57 AM

As hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to settle in Europe after a wave of mass migration, LGBT+ dedicated refugee centres are beginning to spring up.

Italy’s first LGBT+ dedicated centre is set to open soon, joining several similar centres in Germany.

The centres are joint projects by local LGBT+ groups, asylum seeker groups and local authorities.

They come after numerous reports of violence, harassment and intimidation, often coming from other refugees in general accommodation.

Recommended:
‘Airbnb for refugees’ set to launch in Australia next year
"I can sign petitions, have my voice heard at rallies, write letters to the Government - but nothing changes... suddenly I can do something tangible."

“Some Muslims see the presence of homosexual or trans people in the lodging as an affront,” One German organiser told Deutsche Welle last year.

"Gay and lesbian people therefore come under constant stress,” he said.

Authorities can also be guilty of inappropriate treatment, a report by UK advocacy group Stonewall found that LGBT+ asylum seekers in detention faced discrimination, harassment and violence from staff and other detainees.

But the news isn’t all bad – LGBT asylum seekers who have made it to countries like Germany have spoken of positive experiences. 

“For the first time I have an environment that accepts me as a homosexual,” one Syrian refugee wrote in a German newspaper.

“In Hamburg, for the first time, I learned what it means to be free. I found myself. Now I can start my life," he wrote.

Sexual education campaigns for refugees in Germany have also included LGBT+ awareness messaging, which has had the support of some church groups.

When a Berlin LGBT+ group launched a migrant program early last year, the city's Archbishop joined them for the press conference.

The central European country has borne the brunt of the European Union's wave of asylum seekers - with more than one million migrants arriving in recent years.

Recommended:
Comment: In 2017 I hope for a more resilient queer community
"Our capacity to recover quickly from hardship, and to use this hardship as a driving force for change, is often what has defined us." Simon Copland discusses the need for resilience within the LGBT+ community.
Sexuality in the time of Trump
"If 2015 brought us joyful optimism, 2016 taught us to not take our gains for granted. The year 2017 should not be a time of fear, but of vigilance, mobilisation and action."
11 big wins LGBT+ Aussies celebrated in 2016
Although we still have a lot of work to do, there's been a lot of wins for the LGBTQIA+ community in 2016, and that's definitely worth celebrating.
4 powerful stories from Gaycation's Orlando special
"They were good people," Eddie says of his friends Juan and Drew, who lost their lives that night.