LGBTQ Refugees


HIAS welcomes all refugees, including people who identify as LGBTQ. HIAS supports LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers in critical ways to help them access their rights and rebuild their lives with dignity.

Throughout our country offices around the world, and in our affiliate network across the United States, HIAS provides comprehensive legal aid, economic inclusion, mental health, and gender-based violence prevention and support services to LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.

Learn more about our work to support LGBTQ refugees from the articles and videos below. Join us in celebrating Pride and welcoming all refugees into your community.


Briefing: In Search of Safety — LGBTQ Refugee Protection and HIAS

Jun 25, 2020

In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, three experts discuss the unique needs and vulnerabilities of this population, and how HIAS and our U.S. and international partners have stepped up to advocate for the human rights of our LGBTQ clients and provide lifesaving support.

GBV Social Support Group Brings Healing for Refugees

Jan 10, 2020

A support group run by HIAS Kenya is helping lesbian, bisexual, and queer women who have experienced gender-based violence.

A New Name, a New Life

Ovileya, a transgender refugee from Bangladesh, received refugee status in Greece and was able to legally change her gender and name with the help of HIAS attorneys.


Protecting Refugee Survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence

Jun 16, 2017

“Creating these training materials was a three-year process, and the results reflect all that we learned along the way. I hope that anyone who works with refugees will consider using them to improve their outreach to survivors of SGBV,” Levitan said.

The Coolest Handbags We’ve Ever Seen Were Made by This LGBT Refugee

Sep 12, 2016

Henry started his business with just five hand-sewn tote bags made from pieces of traditional East African fabric. They were an instant hit, and he has been expanding ever since. Over the past 11 months, he has hired 20 LGBT refugees to do piece-work, cutting the fabric he uses to make his bags. By working from home, they stay safe and are still able to earn a living.

U.S. Recognizes Equality of All Life Partners for Refugee Family Reunification

Oct 22, 2015

In a little-noticed shift, the Obama administration has taken steps to ensure that the long-term relationships of couples who were not able to be legally married in their home countries or while in flight are nevertheless recognized by the U.S. family reunification program. “Refugees with same-sex partners will finally have the opportunity to reunite with them and to make their families whole again,” said HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield.
Triple Jeopardy Report Cover

Triple Jeopardy

Dec 08, 2014

Certain refugee populations—including older, disabled, male survivors and sexual minority refugees—are often overlooked in sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response effort.

For LGBT Asylum Seeker, Defending Claim is Just the Beginning

Sep 08, 2014

Throughout the interview she managed to remain candid and confident, even hopeful, as she told me about her dreams of going to school for design and starting a career in fashion.

Not your great-grandmother’s HIAS—or is it?

May 15, 2014

The application for my clients–a gay married couple from Jamaica seeking asylum in the U.S–runs 50 pages. It is the product of hours of the hard but rewarding assistance I provide as a staff attorney for HIAS. Thanks to someone like me, who also worked for HIAS, my great-grandmother, my family's matriarch, came to the U.S. in 1919. I wonder what she would make of my clients’ application.

Raising the Red Flag on LGBTI Asylum Obstacles in the U.S.

Jan 13, 2014

With 76 countries having severe criminal penalties for being gay, the most vulnerable group in the world today is refugees who are sexual minorities. They are the marginalized among the marginalized, the least protected among the least protected. They live under a constant threat, forced to hide their identities and live in fear.