Iceland’s foreign and welfare ministers agreed to accept five LGBT refugees from Africa last year upon the recommendation of the Committee of Refugees and are now set to receive them.
The refugees, who include one lesbian, will arrive in the North Atlantic nation from Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cameroon after each of the individuals made a successful application to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC). As stated on Iceland’s Ministry of Welfare, the refugees will be sent to either Reykjavik or Hafnarfjörður.
Iceland’s government approved the initiative last September and appears to have acted on it quickly as the refugees are reported to be travelling to the country in the near future.
Individuals can only make a refugee status and resettlement application a foreign country and many people from the LGBT community are crossing into other African countries to avoid persecution in their homelands. However, the majority appear to be unaware how long the process actually takes.
In countries such as Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, some members of the LGBT community were outed by popular publications such as Hello Magazine, Rolling Stone of Uganda and Red Pepper. They managed to escape government arrest orders and potential beatings but once out of Uganda had to go through the UNHRC’s extremely stringent process regarding refugee status, which can take up to two years.
Many of the refugees are not permitted to say their preferred country of resettlement and must stay in refugee camps, often facing extreme homophobia, until they learn their fate. There are currently dozens of Ugandan refugees in Kenyan camps desperately waiting to see if their refugee and resettlement applications will be accepted.