A series of violent homophobic assaults in Berlin against gay migrants has led officials to establish a refugee centre for homosexual and transgender asylum seekers in the German capital.
While the centre is planned for a March opening, its capacity for 125 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees will evidently cater only for a very small proportion of the estimated 3,500 LGBT migrants currently seeking asylum in Berlin, reports Reuters.
Stephan Jakel, manager of refugee affairs at Berlin-based gay rights organisation Schwulenberatung said there had been frequent stories of “discrimination and crimes against LGBT people” over the last two years.
“They were frightened and scared after being beaten or spat on, and one survived a murder attempt. We heard a lot of horrible stories,” he said.
Over one million refugees arrived in German last year, many fleeing war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, with 95 reported cases of violence against LGBT people between August and December alone.
According to the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD), instances of physical violence, sexual assaults, verbal assaults and coercion took place primarily in accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers.
But due to accommodation shortages in Berlin, Jakel added asylum seekers were forced to remain stay in centres for extended periods, often facing abuse.
The new centre will offer accommodation to LGBT asylum seekers as they are processed without a time limit attached.
“Refugees have been coming to our centre over the last few years asking for help,” said Jakel.
The move echoes a similar situation in the Netherlands last month, when five migrants who identified as gay were relocated from their housing in Amsterdam after being threatened and attacked.
At the time, City Alderman Simone Kukenheim said asylum seekers who identify as LGBT were considered “extra vulnerable”, and that it was “crucial” they had access to a safe environment for adequate recovery and care.