Obama Administration announces resource center for LGBT refugees


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced the creation of a first-ever resource center to support the resettlement of LGBT refugees.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of the Administration for Children and Families, awarded a $250,000 grant to the Heartland Alliance of Chicago to create a training and technical assistance center.

“The Obama administration has issued a clear mandate that comprehensive human rights include the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said ACF Acting Assistant Secretary David A. Hansell.

“Addressing the protection and resettlement challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender refugees is a priority for ACF and ORR, and we are pleased to bring on Heartland Alliance as a partner to support this key initiative.”

The focus of the initiative will be to provide:

  • Resource and capacity development in key resettlement locations;
  • Sensitivity training to network staff, including overview of key issue regarding newly arriving LGBT refugees;
  • Technical assistance in service delivery;
  • Development of best practices and orientation materials for refugee service providers across the country.

“As many of these refugees left their homelands specifically because of persecution related to their LGBT status, it is particularly incumbent on us to provide a safe and welcoming environment,” Hansell added.

“The current resettlement network has limited understanding of the LGBT community,” said ORR Director Eskinder Negash. “In addition, no information exists in the context of available resource materials specifically for LGBT refugees. The need for these services is critical to ensure their successful resettlement in the U.S.”

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