As well as contending with racism, queer refugees face homophobia and transphobia even from their fellow refugees. One Dutch group is trying to carve out a safe space
At the dinner table, conversations bubble around people as they tuck into a three-course meal. A plethora of different nationalities and identities have pulled up a chair and, here at Sehaq in Amsterdam, they welcome and make space for everyone.
Suddenly, someone is standing on the table dancing, and as more people join in, the meal becomes an exuberant celebration. Some of them have travelled for more than two hours to attend and they dont want to waste a single second if they have to leave early. For those who can stay, after the meal there will be performances, DJs and partying until late into the night. Most of the people here are LGBT refugees, and this event is one of the few that provides a safe space to socialise and collaborate.
In 2017, indignant at the lack of space for them in Amsterdams male-dominated queer scene, a group of refugees and migrants founded Sehaq; a network of LGBT refugees run entirely by volunteers. Regularly meeting in members houses, they put on events specifically for queer refugees that range from dance parties to workshops. Where there is a cost or meal involved, all refugees attend for free and non-refugees pay a small donation.