lgbt people at pride

Micro Rainbow and Rainbow Migration firmly condemn this government’s barbaric proposal to house people seeking asylum on barges.

We support Refugee Council’s open letter to Bibby Marine and agree that barges are unsuitable for housing people seeking asylum in the UK. Furthermore, the doubling of the capacity of the barge, and the movement restrictions placed on the people housed there resemble immigration detention, where LGBTQI+ people are particularly at risk of harm. The overcrowded accommodation and the restrictions on movement for the people living at the Bibby Stockholm will replicate many of the conditions of incarceration.

Housing people in prison-like conditions such as those proposed on the Bibby Stockholm risk further traumatising people who are seeking safety and protection. The risks of forced isolation and prison conditions is well known: it is a key facet of Australian border policy. This policy has a detrimental impact on both mental and physical health, and the UK Government knows this. The situation will be even more dire for LGBTQI+ people.

We know that LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum are particularly at risk of harm and can face serious issues when forced to live in overcrowded conditions. Like in detention, they are likely to experience discrimination and harassment from other people seeking asylum who can hold LGBTQI-phobic views. Trans people can be at even greater risk of abuse and may be forced to hide their gender identity.

Rainbow Migration’s 2023 pilot study into LGBTQI+ experiences of detention underlines the fact that detention-like conditions are unsafe for LGBTQI+ people. It is clear that the conditions on the Bibby Stockholm will differ from immigration detention in name only, and are likely to put LGBTQI+ people at increased risk of harm.

Instead, a holistic and community-based response is better suited to safeguarding LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. Micro Rainbow’s tested and successful holistic approach to integration incorporates housing, social-inclusion and moving-on support, and it is a viable and empathetic alternative. Micro Rainbow’s housing is safe, inclusive for LGBTQI+ people, and integrated into the community. People seeking asylum staying in Micro Rainbow housing are not only safe to express their LGBTQI+ identity but also better able to establish community links and networks of support. They can openly and safely contribute to their local communities.

Micro Rainbow and Rainbow Migration ask that this government commits to the safeguarding of LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, and guarantees that LGBTQI+ people will not be housed on barges.