Gay interest group COC Netherlands is extremely disappointed that the Dutch cabinet will not provide separate and safe shelter for LGBT asylum seekers in distress, as the Dutch Lower House requested. This is the response of COC Netherlands in a letter to State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff.
According to the COC, the lack of safe and separate shelter will lead to dangerous situations for LGBT asylum seekers.
In its letter, the cabinet writes that it will arrange separate shelter locations for discrimination offenders. The COC is in favour of dealing with offenders harshly, when possible, but separate offender shelter alone will not solve the problems of LGBT asylum seekers. When LGBTs are discriminated in shelters, the perpetrators often are not in the picture, and therefore cannot be dealt with. For instance, it is still unknown who stabbed a knife in the mattress of a gay asylum seeker in Heumensoord, and who placed notes on the bed of another asylum seeker with the text ‘kill gay’.
The COC and two other organisations will meet State Secretary Klaas Dijkhof to argue in favour of separate shelter for LGBTs in emergency situations again, and the implementation of the actual and effective measures Dijkhoff suggests in his letter to the Dutch Lower House.
According to the State Secretary, one of the possible measures that can be taken is that victims in acute situations can be sheltered in a Women's Shelter. But, according to the COC, this has never been done.
Other measures that are in place are often not implemented effectively. When LGBTs are transferred to other emergency shelters, the same kind of trouble often occurs. LGBTs that were offered their own room were still being threatened and assaulted in communal rooms. According to the COC, shelter in a separate wing of a shelter location can contribute to the safety of LGBT asylum seekers, but so far, this only seems to happen in Amsterdam.
The COC thinks it is positive that a confidentiality official is appointed to every shelter location, to which LGBT asylum seekers can report problems and complaints. The COC has been advocating this for a long time.
Late October 2015, COC Netherlands sounded the alarm on the situation of LGBTs in emergency shelter The interest group received complaints from 21 asylum seekers who had to deal with discrimination, bullying and death threats. The COC advocates a dual policy: harshly dealing with the perpetrators, and offering separate and safe shelter to those who prefer this.