LGBT asylum seekers: Call for dedicated housing in Wales

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2/5/21

Abderrahim El Habachi, 28, said he felt “unsafe” living alongside some men from North Africa and the Middle East after he arrived in Cardiff in 2017. He called for dedicated LGBT housing. The Home Office said it required accommodation providers to “take account of any circumstances and vulnerability”. Mr El Habachi’s application for asylum in the UK and a subsequent appeal have been rejected and a new application is pending. He said being gay in Morocco was difficult, he felt his life was in danger there, and he was constantly playing a game of “hide and seek” with the police. “‘Who’s the man and who’s the woman? What’s your girl name?’ – I heard this daily from the Moroccan police,” said Mr El Habachi. In 2017, he decided to flee Morocco for the UK and ended up in Cardiff, housed with men from a similar culture who he said had the homophobic and transphobic views he had tried to escape. “I had fled a country that was dangerous for me, because of who I am, and I was put in an environment that felt more dangerous than the situation that I left,” he said. He was initially housed in accommodation provided by the National Asylum Support Service. “I only spent 50 days there, but it felt like a lifetime,” he said, explaining that being placed alongside some men from North Africa and the Middle East with homophobic views created “instability” for him. Mr El Habachi said when he asked about living accommodation for LGBT-asylum seekers and refugees, he was told none existed. “I felt so unsafe and vulnerable, I thought I would come here and be able to embrace myself but instead I was feeling very insecure. “It was as though there was no effort to make LGBT people welcome, the drop-in centres for asylum seekers and refugees weren’t LGBT friendly, they were mainly aimed towards cis men. I was made to feel unwelcome,” he said.

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