This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It may contain errors or omissions, so always listen back to the original media to confirm content. You can search the text using Ctrl-F, and you can also play the audio by clicking on a desired timestamp.
OK, Um, I just, um So some people might know my name? Um, iana Rubashkin formerly ruins, uh, just recently married. And so rest, you know, briefly, I just would like, um to speak a little bit about my experience, not from a victim point of view, because I'm tired of it. But from a perspective that can be help can be of your help. Uh, when helping [00:00:30] refugees. There is a way for refugees that will start coming to New Zealand and a big wave of rainbow refugees that we need to start learning how to help because it's, uh it's something new in the narrative or the LGBTI movement. New Zealand is seen as a country where we can be ourselves. So it's a country where rainbow communities will be targeting in their seeking for a better life. So we need to know how to help them, because it's much that's been achieved until today for LGBTI [00:01:00] S in New Zealand. And all these people come with the problems that we were facing here 30 or 40 years ago, just starting to be in this country, and there is many challenges that need to be exposed. So I'm going to speak, uh, in a perspective of as a former refugee that's experienced what's happening through the system, how you can help every refugee that is being resettled in New Zealand and how to help Not just people here, but people overseas people that ask or approach you in a way to, you know, asking [00:01:30] for support and you understanding how the ways of getting you know, the refugee status and all these very complicated and very difficult ways to be recognised as a refugee. And then this process of being resettled to another country. So I'm going to put the light a little bit down because I don't think this. So I first started, uh, my presentation, I. I like it to to put an orc on archive. Uh, because, [00:02:00] um, first, the orchid is a very fragile flower. It's a flower that needs to be protected to keep its beauty, uh, or is also biologically speaking like an intersex, having both male and female Gammas. So just by understanding that our nature offers this sort of diversity and we humans, we are being affected by the stereotypes or the [00:02:30] narrative of this, you know, normalisation in this sex orientation, gender identity, gender expression and the sex characteristics in in one way that many of many people in this world feel not safe in who they are. So OK, yeah. So I'm going to um So I wanted to put this picture because I feel it represents who I am as a intersex woman. [00:03:00] And it represents how fragile I was at a point in my life and how I'm now in New Zealand being beautiful, being proud and enjoying this beautiful chance of having a life as a normal person without fear, without with full dignity and enjoying just my existence. OK, Not many people like me have this opportunity. And that's for those people. I'm going to speak for those people [00:03:30] I'm going to speak today, So I'm going to focus in four general topics. Um, the situation, the general situation of sexual and gender nonconforming individuals. So I'm going to use the terminology SGM OK, that is general, and including also intersex people that we've been discussing as a part of a sexual nonconforming [00:04:00] individuals. Then how we help refugees and how we help the assessment teams that assess the refugee status protection in the field, which is how we help refugees in the countries of transition and how we help them in our communities. OK, so first I want to explain and give a short story of my life. I was born in Colombia. I was raised and assigned as a boy. [00:04:30] I was assigned male at birth because my intersex condition, uh, isn't visible at birth. So I just have I just have developed like a male genitalia. That was just enough for my family to label me as a boy. So that way I was raised. Uh, I always to feel that I was not that person they were trying to force to be. And in my adolescence, uh, things started to be difficult in my puberty. [00:05:00] That happened didn't happen correctly. I never was able to fully develop my genitalia as a man and even the hair my body never grew the way it should be like supposed to be in a man. And for that I was feeling that the gender that I was forced to conform was not I was not feeling comfortable in that gender. When I was 18 years old, I my breast started to to be very prominent and, uh, my [00:05:30] body starting to take a very female shape. And I was understood what? Why? Why that thing was going on then? Uh, my mom took me to a doctor. They made some, uh, hormonal profiles, and I have a hormones, you know, in a very, uh, the my hormone was just crazy. I had the product product levels, like, three times higher than a woman, and then I have all my hormone profile was completely messed up. And then my mom is starting [00:06:00] to to see that I have a hormonal problem that might be explaining why I never had a girlfriend, a boyfriend or why I never had a chance to to really, uh, develop, uh a strong, uh, identity as a person because I can I I all my my my time like my adolescent was just more about conforming, but not really being because I never was a boy. I. I knew I couldn't conform. In that sense, I never developed a strong voice. I always had a very delicate voice. So even when I have some bird and some [00:06:30] facial hair, I it was a little bit funny to see someone like look like a boy, then having a bird and then trying to conform as a boy and then all these kind of challenging, binary things. OK, I starting to cross dress and because I have a very masculine appearance, Uh, I was targeted as a trans person and being targeted as a trans person when you come out in Colombia, which is a country with a very difficult social situation nowadays, [00:07:00] uh, it was a very difficult thing for me. I was subjected to social cleaning groups that still acting in Colombia, and those social cleaning groups attack me several times in my back to me and other trump friends, and and I still have those scars in my I thought that was and it's something that we all need [00:07:30] to understand is that so? I have PTSD and I was in my back, and I was unable to access to proper health care because I didn't want to come out to my family as someone who didn't I have to do. It's a very dangerous situation, [00:08:00] the you know, and so we're speaking on behalf of that person and and I understood that my place is not a place for me to be in any sense because my family didn't understood my community didn't understood which trans persons were completely targeted. My country alone holds 20% of the general murder rate of trans women in the world. And even though I was not a trans woman, I was representing something that they hate [00:08:30] because I don't conform in what they believe. That should be a man of a woman. I really hated what my family did to me because they didn't never give me the chance to serve deter. They have a determination of my body. And until today I don't speak to them and no one in my family because they still still keep the point that I was raised a boy. And no matter if I have kids, if I have, if I have X and X chromosomes, I should [00:09:00] be a boy because that's the way I was educated. So I decided to skip. It was so much suffering for me so many times, so many suicide attempts. And then I decided to to escape from all these world suffering and stress and feeling completely alone, isolated when my breast started to grow, my mom forced me to bind my breast. The doctors told my mom to put me there so I can show a more conforming [00:09:30] body to my male identity. And I was I was proud of my breasts. I wanted to show my breast because I I do. I'm not ashamed of these ones. Many Trans people are paying thousands of dollars to have what I have. Naturally. Why? I need to be ashamed of that then. So, I, I got a scholarship to go to Taiwan and I went to Taiwan. It could be Denmark. It could be South Africa. But it was Taiwan because people often ask me why Taiwan? I got [00:10:00] a scholarship to go to Taiwan, and it was a perfect excuse for me to escape from all this and be finally able to to accept who I am. So I went to Taiwan and everything was perfect for me because finally, I could bring the stupid viols. And I can be able finally to show my body how it how it was my body. And I was finally proud to show my corpse and able to remove my birth and able to [00:10:30] to start to conform to my gender, but I felt comfortable. Taiwan has an amazing health system, and it is a country that respects the spectrum of identities of a person. It's the most tolerant country in Asia, So I did a good decision and I didn't really knew too much at that time. When I went to Taiwan, I didn't have much knowledge of Taiwan. So I was able to see doctors. And I see three gynaecologists, one endocrinologist, everything completely for free. [00:11:00] Because Taiwan has an amazing health system. They saw me. They understood my condition. They analysed my cognition. And finally, for the first time ever in my life, I understood my condition called of a test for the six for the six. Why, which basically is calling the ancient books of of medicine as true Afro or they started because I wanted to transition and because of my condition, I didn't have to have a psych a psychiatric [00:11:30] assessment. So I have transitioned right away, which was for me helpful but a bit like many Trans people in Taiwan at that time were suffering for waiting months and months to have this this chance to have transition, I didn't have to wait up because I had this little biological, uh, advantage. So they give me an education. Thank you so much. They gave me a medication called, which is it's [00:12:00] a DNA Rh blocker, which actually stops the if the follicle stolon hormone, which is a hormone that is like the mum of the male and female hormones, with the intention of making my body completely blank in hormones be completely as sexual, I would say or non like having a blank gender. So then I put you to start hormone replacement therapy of like hormones [00:12:30] for female hormones which were not present in me. It took me only three months to changed completely my opinions and in six months, my appearance, including my face, the shape of my eyes, the cheeks, my face, my body, even my voice change in a way that the person I was didn't [00:13:00] exist anymore. And my passport wasn't able to compute my identity. So I became illegal. I became a liberal. I was studying. I was outstanding. I was doing my master in Taiwan Medical University. I was about to finish my my thesis. I was very happy. Finally I was who I like the person who I was and this I would say transition was making me very happy. I didn't imagine that My change [00:13:30] is going to be so dramatic, Like like I can show pictures of me being before and pictures of me now and they don't even look. I don't even look like like a brother of myself, because we look really like two different individuals. And this is because of my intersex condition. So everything was fine until I got a, uh, a letter from the immigration services in Taiwan. They told me, uh, Ileana, we cannot renew your second year about your scholarship [00:14:00] for your programme because according with the Taiwanese law, you don't exist as a person because you don't compute with your passport. Your passport doesn't identify you anymore. As a person, they were kind. And they say to me, you need to approach your embassy or your consulate of your or your country. And Taiwan is not recognised as a country by my country because the the problem with China, the two Chinas and Taiwan being the little China, that no one cares [00:14:30] because we care about the big china. So I was very happy in Taiwan because I was finally able to born I. I was born in Taiwan and everybody all the time. When somebody asked me, Were you born? I always feel this need to say I was born in in Taiwan and I don't use anymore my birthday like my biological birthday as a day of of celebration. I use my birthday in Taiwan as my real birthday, which is 20th of [00:15:00] February, because I I'm tired of my past because there was too much suffering that came to me just by being born that I want to forget everything that's about my past. And that's why I celebrate a different birthday because I just don't want to know about the person I was before. The authorities told me to go to the closest Colombian consulate being that one in Hong Kong. So I was in a political situation [00:15:30] of going from one country that is not a country to another country. That is not even a country that belongs to a big country called China. And I was like going to two different worlds, even though the same culture, not same but the similar spectrum you know, China in general speaking when I arrived to the airport, everything, everything started, all the difficulties that I was experienced and that many Trans people went to travel in air face [00:16:00] and many people that they don't have confirming identities face when they are in the airport. I was detained in the in the airport in once I landed, I came for only two days. I was with my intention of travelling for two days and then continue. My master, I approached my embassy many times before travelling to Hong Kong I because I I was feeling in a very vulnerable situation because I didn't have a record of my transition. And and by having this specific intersex condition, I didn't [00:16:30] have the way to explain why I changed so much. Not surgical interventions. No, nothing was changing my opinion so much So when I when I was in the airport, I was detained and I was then detained in the section of the airport for holding false documentation. And being in Colombia was not helping helping much because they were thinking I was doing trafficking and sex drugs and or [00:17:00] I was coming to Taiwan for sex work because they were understanding that I was a trans or something like that because I was a man in my passport. Now I look like a woman, but I just don't look like a woman. I conform to the idea of a woman because I have feminine boys. I have feminine body. I have everything feminine and they just couldn't understand. How could I be that person Just a few months ago, they detain me and following the instructions, they placed me in detention centre with other men in. And I was then [00:17:30] assaulted for two officers from the Chinese government. I was sexually abused nine hours after, and then I was sent to a prison in a malaria of prison and I was abused and mistreated and arrested. And I was really they didn't even allow me to use the toilet when I was in the airport. I have I didn't have the chance to use the toilet and they were forcing me to use the toilet in front of all the the persons that were in the detention room. [00:18:00] And I was so humiliating that I didn't want to do that IP myself just not to let them destroy my dignity in that prison. I was lucky enough that I have battery in the second phone that I was because I had two phones and the second phone was able to connect to Roman International of Taiwan in Hong Kong. So I sent a message in In Tweet in Facebook and one of my friends, Cindy [00:18:30] Mo, which I was following my transition in Taiwan that is, from Singapore. But she was living in Hong Kong at that time. She knew I was coming to Hong Kong for this, and she saw that I didn't report myself after landing in Hong Kong after like one day, and that she started to panic. And she contact Rainbow of Hong Kong, which is an organisation in Hong Kong that helps LGBT people in all the senses they call Amnesty International. [00:19:00] They went to the airport. They fight in a very, very strong way because they knew that something terrible was happening with me and they took me out of the airport. But I was I left the airport without a passport and my passport. At this stage of my life, I don't know what is. My passport was destroyed. I was about to be deported and what means deported is being sent from Hong Kong to Colombia now. As a person, I am a vulnerable person after being in [00:19:30] transition, going back as a person who I am. I didn't want that to happen and I wanted to keep my dignity with me. So I refused to be sent to port to Colombia. I had the dream to finish my master in Taiwan. So I stay and I say No way. I'm not going to leave. I'm going to let them win so easy. So I started to stay in Hong Kong and starting to fight a battle against the Hong Kong system. So it's starting all the process of asking for support, [00:20:00] different organisations and a international being one of the one of the ones that really support me a lot and then rainbow of Hong Kong. That is a very powerful organisation, that I have all my respect because they give me old protection that no one else was able to give me. They offered me shelter when they could, and then one, I started the process of being a refugee. I visit the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, My refugee case [00:20:30] was so strong, so evident and so easy to assess that I got my refugee status in 15 days. Something that takes five years for many refugees took me 15 days and then I became a refugee under the international law and I became stateless. I lost my country. My country need never support me, and at that time my country was unable to recognise my identity and my gender. That is actually not doing it, but it wasn't possible before [00:21:00] so being then in Hong Kong, after being born who I want and then being struggling in Hong Kong again, let's say, being in a again in this situation of uncertainty or what what to do now with my life and this uncertainty of being a refugee, that is super difficult, that nobody can even imagine [00:21:30] what is being a refugee and and what is being a refugee. When you were never expecting that, I didn't understood what was refugee. Just when the day the same day I became more one, not like many other refugees that they seek for that they run to their countries. For that, I was one day expecting to know Hong Kong just to travel a few places and leaving the next day. And then that day I became a refugee. [00:22:00] The United Nations were very helpful with me. They were in a very specific case. It was the second time. It was the second time they were assessing a case of a refuge of a trans person at the time a trans a trans person in in Hong Kong being the first one, a Mongolian woman that is now resettled in Amsterdam. And for me it was quite shocking to see that I'm always [00:22:30] everywhere I go. I'm the the first or the one on the first ones. When I find out that we Trans people being the most vulnerable segments of society. Then I understood that I was privileged because I was an educated person that was able to win a scholarship, to go to Taiwan, to escape from my country, to have the kind of financial means to to seek asylum, because many of my transport in Colombia, they have to eat all the shit of being there, and they just can't They don't have the financial means to just to even to move out of the cities, [00:23:00] so being in Taiwan in Hong Kong, then the United Nations starts all the process that I'm going to speak in the in the section of protection in the field. They sent me to a refugee camp in and everything the the difficult part of, of all the story, just it started because this is the actual tough times of my life. The previous part has been a little [00:23:30] introduction to what the difficult thing of mine. Living in a refugee camp is not an easy thing when you are so different and when you are so vulnerable. That's why this presentation is called a refugee among refugees. The being in a refugee camp is a very difficult thing, especially for LGBTI refugees. Even more when more of refugees are people coming from [00:24:00] countries where our identities are not accepted, but not just not accepted or hate it. In countries where their values are, their education levels and many other things are not actually compatible with your own existence. I don't know why the some refugee camps are so stupid to divide the population of the refugees between [00:24:30] males and females. I couldn't fit in any of them. I couldn't be in there houses for boys or in the houses of women. We all have to share toilets. And how can I take a shower in front of Muslim womens or in the other sense, you know, in the other in the other way. So they they decided that the best place for me was part of yuan long, close to [00:25:00] in a shipping container. So I was living over six months in a shipping container. And what the purchase Kong has very hot temperatures, very humid temperatures. And I remember waking up with cockroaches as being part of my every day and getting so used to that, you know, like you open a piece of bag of bread and cockroaches [00:25:30] going on and and things that I would never used to because I, I have a privileged life in my country. I had a privileged life in my country. OK, my mom, we had a privileged life. And then I understood what's not being privileged. You know these days that you don't have nothing. You don't have a citizenship. You don't have family. You don't even have a profession after you being pharmacist. Then you ended up being homeless with nothing. And you didn't do nothing [00:26:00] wrong because I didn't commit a crime. That's and then and then living in this in this container. And then I was able sometimes to have Internet. I usually had enough money in the beginning of my journey to go to Rainbow of Hong Kong and stay some days there I was sleeping in the HIV testing room that they have because they have a very little place. Like I must say, like [00:26:30] this place where everybody sleeps on the floor. Most of LGBTI homeless Hong Kong, most of them half of them being from China, mainland China they were living in. You can go right out there and you will find LGBTI S homeless, sleeping all over the place like this. Maybe 40 persons and I was in the corner and they were so nice people that they just make, like, a little room for Eliana because I was the only trans living in that environment. [00:27:00] They were understanding that we not we have privacy needs, you know, because they were even sleeping naked. They didn't mind about nothing, you know, they were in, like in a in a and then they they let me sleep in the HIV testing room because being a more private place for me to be there. So I sleep, I think, three months in the HIV testing room of the rainbow in I don't know if somebody's been in Hong Kong in [00:27:30] Kowloon. So I even remember exactly have you been in in Jordan Street, Jordan. They are in Jordan, between Road and Jordan Road, Seventh floor two by two road and they have a beautiful. You just need to look up in the windows and see all the beautiful rainbows that they put in the in the seventh floor where they are. They are staying that it is a place for all LGBTI to sleep there. And it's a beautiful thing that we I would like to see in New Zealand, [00:28:00] a place where all LGBTI homeless can just come to sleep because they don't have a place where to sleep, and they just cannot go to a normal shelter because we cannot go to a normal shelter. We need people like us that is able to understand our needs. So this journey, being a refugee, I don't want to tell experiences of being in a refugee camp because there are so difficult things happening there. So many assaults and even so many attacks that happened. I have scars and all my body [00:28:30] of many things and and things that just, um yeah, in the refugee camps, you find people being raped. You find women being beaten. And even here in New Zealand, in the refugee camp, you can see these things happening because refugees come with their minds, the mindsets, even to New Zealand. I remember being here in, and I remember seeing a family [00:29:00] where the the brother was beating her sister for not wearing a hijab beating in front of all the refugees. And we've been completely unable to to to to help and these refugees being in a process of understanding the culture of this country, that this is not OK and all these difficult things that I think we need to learn about Do we need to learn about them as [00:29:30] well as they need to learn about us and how we can coordinate the support of those who help refugees to have awareness of the LGBT issues. So then, Jack, I mean, I met Jack being in this container, I was able to contact him to different trans organisations that were aware of my case. I starting to be told that New Zealand was a place for me. I was forced to have a normalisation surgery [00:30:00] to to fit in a FNM in a passport to come in here which was happening with other countries. So I was able to travel to New Zealand. I didn't choose this country was the United Nations who taught this country to be a place for me. So I was The United Nations were told that to show New Zealand to be a place and we just wanted to speed out my situation. I just wanted to speed out to come here. And that's why offer a great help because Jack help to vi my case, um, into the [00:30:30] immigration team that assist refugees. And and I was I came in a very unusual path for Colombian refugees because Colombian refugees come from Ecuador. They don't come from Hong Kong. Yeah, because there is many Colombian refugees in New Zealand. It's over 100 and 40 every year. And I was a very unusual refugee coming from Hong Kong, So er so that was something that that really changed many ways. [00:31:00] And so now I want to quickly sorry for taking so long just to speak about how can you help people like me in situations like me or L GB a refugees. OK, sorry for crying. I'm very sensitive. OK, So as I was mentioning first, um, there is that we need to understand because they they they can be sometimes, um confused. And and and it's OK [00:31:30] like what is a refugee? What is an as asylum as as or or an asylum seeker and and just understand these definitions are important because being a refugee is the end of the process. And not not all people can get to that point who will be being recognised as a refugee? Uh, many asylum seekers are people that are looking for getting that status. Many organisations call them refugees while they are not being officially granted the refugee [00:32:00] status. Sorry, uh, four definition and this is a definition that was created after the World War two because the concept of being a refugee and being resettled to another country where are settled in the convention relating to refugees of 1951. That was after the Holocaust and what happens in Europe that we decided to create like a a frame, to understand how [00:32:30] to how to help people, that is being forced, forced migration to one country to another. So refugees have to flee to another country to be granted the refugee status or to be considered an asylum. Yes, and few of these ones in transition are resettled. So I want to show a very dramatic picture of the the situation in, In in, in terms of LGBTI as like me is the ones [00:33:00] that were former refugees and now living a happy life in a country of you know, that they are enjoying a life finally and asylum seekers are the ones that are still waiting for their status to be recognised. So this is one definition that I correct from the or or is an organisation that works specifically, uh towards LGBTI refugees helping other organisations to, uh, be aware of [00:33:30] how to help LGBTI refugees, including the United Nations, the UN HCR and the High Commission for Human Rights. So they say that what is what is SGN, which is sexual and gender nonconforming individuals, those persons whose sexual practises, sexual characteristics, attractions or gender expression are different for social expectations based on their assigned sex at birth. So based on that [00:34:00] we have this map that is a little bit cut because it's not Russia there, and New Zealand is always ignoring the map. So it's OK. So I don't know if you can see the colours, but we can see uh, countries where same sex marriage and certain practises are are are are they led you to have a death penalty countries where there are other criminalization for being LGBTI. I will say L [00:34:30] GB because being trans in the Intersect issues, they have many other cultural understandings that can be more difficult or sometimes understanding, like being trans in Iran is OK, but OK in a very terrible way because they forced you to have a surgery and to conform to one gender or another. Then prevalent and punished abuse by state and non state actors and mainly, focus Colombia, Brazil, Many countries in Central America, especially Honduras, [00:35:00] where especially in those countries, trans women are targeted being known that 80% of the murders of transgender women that were happening alone in Latin America especially in Brazil. So this is things that we need to understand because sometimes when we speak about the violence of LGBTI issues, we just focus on Uganda in the Russia in the in. Um so you know, in the Arab countries that we don't understand that most [00:35:30] of the more LGBTI related murders are happening in countries that we think to be colourful and to be respected for all these things. And it's not true. OK, So as we can see a few countries there, um, like, for instance, South Africa, it's it was one of the first countries in the world to recognise same sex marriage. Still many people is murder there for being LGBTI, you know, including other factors, as those countries are naturally [00:36:00] violent. So it's just violence being something cultural, and then those vulnerable ones being more vulnerable for being who they are. So this is a very sad picture of the situation of this the people LGBTI people. Um it is understood that there is about 175 million of sex and gender non conforming individuals in the world living in [00:36:30] places where where where they are challenged or in persecution, which is about 5% of the world population is actually half of the LGBT population live in countries where their condition, it's it's it's not accepted in a very terrible way. From this 175 million, 100 and 75,000 have a sexual orientation, gender identity that is perceived or known. So it's like [00:37:00] people that have a sexual orientation that is known for the community or, uh, expression that is understood and is not actually matching with what a person should be conforming with the sex of birth. 104,000 of these 175 have been harmed, threatened in the countries of origin, being 80% of those with the ones I mentioned before, which is showing that 80% of the people were whose sexual orientation is known is being attacked in some stage in their lives. [00:37:30] Half of them escape from their countries to to transit or asylum countries like how come? But I didn't really escape. I was I was in a different situation, so it's people like I don't know, people that go to another country just to to find more safety. Many LGBTI people just go from one city to another city to find more kind of enjoying this chance of being not known [00:38:00] or something like that, and only 20,000 know or understand or get help to apply for their refugee status as an asylum seeker and to seek protection from the High Commission for the High Commission for Refugees. Only 10,000 are resettled every year in the world. This figure is a 2015 1 because in the 2011 1, only 200 refugees were accepted [00:38:30] to be presented in other countries. So it was. It's very sad to see how few refugees are accepted as refugees when we are easily seen as the most vulnerable segment of the society and that can show how sad is the situation. That's why I was telling at the conference that New Zealand that is been fighting for increasing the refugee quota, should also fight for allocating a specific number of seats for LGBTI [00:39:00] refugees in a proportion of a 5% of the population that has been facing harm. Because we are I, I am the only gender refugee in this country and I don't think that's really like reflecting a reality that's in in the world. And then it's so so we know all this. We know all of this, so I don't want to go in deep. But many countries don't actually, [00:39:30] um, persecute gay people based on laws on religion, but also on, like, Russia, where being gay is OK according to the law. But it's not too much being according to the propaganda and stuff like that, or we can see many. Actually, this map is from, and it's very updated, so that's why I wanted to bring it out. Um, in this map, intersex rights and gender identity laws are not included because it's another segment of understanding how open is the world, because [00:40:00] we might find countries where the the sex marriages are accepted. But being, uh, being trans is very difficult, if another one like Sweden or Finland, where there's no gender identity recognition just but through surgery. Many countries, even in Europe, have still this problem, so it's like forced mutilation just to be recognising the gender that you feel you are even in very developed countries. So now when when we want to help refugees, we need to understand [00:40:30] that there are governing documents that are outlining all the things that all the definitions and stuff that need to help refugees being the most important one. The 1951 convention of the the the Convention of the Refugees and the 9 90 sixties Protocol. Then there is other things that we need to to to know that every country has its own national laws. Every country knows how many people will accept them from which categories. New Zealand has a specific categories, including [00:41:00] women in risk or persons with disabilities and things like that. That's why I was suggesting that LGBTI being included as one of those categories. Then we have a recent UN HCR guideline, the number nine for protection of sexual orientation and gender identity. It was just two years ago, and then they need to go in codes of conduct. So this is the refugee process is very terrible. I will share with you my slides [00:41:30] so you can see that, like when you ask a claim, if you are eligible, If you are not ineligible, then you need to go to like a port of entries, like going to another country. Uh, then when you go to a country where they accept your case, and then you go to claim a refugee status and you submit all the documents. You have a hearing with the the the the person in the United Nations. They listen to your case, they accept your claim and they appeal your case to the refugee [00:42:00] appeal division. And then they start all the process of resettlement and things like that. It's a very difficult process that I don't even understand very well. And then So what is important for us as as as activist is the sensation sensitization about refugees is, uh, teaching people. What What is gender teaching people of what is gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, sexual orientation? Uh, and let them understand that those stereotypes that we are, uh, that we usually [00:42:30] try to define for certain LGBTI are not always conforming the reality of a person. So if you are lesbian, er you don't need to be patchy or you are gay. You don't need to be feminine. Or if you are trans, you need to be flamboyant or all these kind of stereotypes that usually the UN HCR cases seek as a way to prove your your condition or your sex orientation or your identity. So this very interesting gender unicorn [00:43:00] that explains all the different ways that how can they play in different aspects of a person the gender identity, expression, the sex the person was assigned at birth, how the person or kind of sexual attraction this person has and how this person is romantically or emotionally attracted to others. All these things are understood by all of us, but are not understood by UN H ER in and things that help refugees to get their refugee status. [00:43:30] They don't understand that. How come if you are bisexual to choose one side and don't be persecuted and then so or things like that, you know, like like ignorance from them. So one everything starts when they're starting to understand every country. What is the problems in every country? How this country and all these reports coming from I the only er so far organisation that the United Nations has as a as AAA credit organisation too. [00:44:00] Yeah, one of them. I think that to give information that it can be used as a way to to to place in the country for information. That is something that is being used to understand if you are really in risk or not, depending on which country you come from and then and then understanding, you know, like, um, like the how the person er get to how the person can get to these these groups, something that many LGBTI people when they are in a different country. When they go to the UN HCR, the first thing they are is [00:44:30] afraid of coming out to them and exposing all their truth to someone that don't even know what gender means or what sexual orientation is, or someone who is going to be judgmental. You know, we have. We have these people in different countries and people that is not being educated. So that's we have to do education. Then we need to seek for implementation to make that every organisation here, like in New Zealand, we have the Red Cross. So how we let the Red Cross know how, how [00:45:00] they have to access access, access, the the cases of refugees educated them like what we're doing here, learning like we can give them instructions of how to treat the refugee. What kind of sort of health concerns they have what kind of things they are worried about, even how they can culturally engage with their past. You know they are Muslims, which kind of places they can visit as against Muslim or transgender Muslim or things like that. OK? And then [00:45:30] also given legal advice. Many refugees come here and they have their partners in their countries, and then they have difficulties to prove their relationship because their relationship was something that they were ashamed of in their country or origin. So how to help them, you know, to reunite with their actual partners and stuff like that, Um, helping refugees that come here and don't even understand who they are. Like many people I met in here in New Zealand like a transgender woman that came from Saudi Arabia to study English and then decided [00:46:00] to stay here because she wanted to be a woman. And she don't even know how to start the process here in New Zealand. And she don't even speak good English. And she's been now in this situation of trying to seek asylum. Yeah, because she's an asylum seeker. She she might now start the process of being recognised as a refugee and all this stuff and many other things. Like, for instance, when I was living in the refugee camp in Hungary, I found a woman she identified at that time as a woman. [00:46:30] She came from Zambia and and she she knew about me because everybody that knew about me, something very terrible somebody everyone in the company knew about me. So she approached me and said, Look, I'm a woman that likes women, but I don't know who I am because I don't like this one. And she was showing me her books, and she was like Like she was very curious about me because she didn't really understood. Well, how can I be like, Are you gay [00:47:00] or what's your business? Please educate myself. And then I put starting to let her know about making her aware of her transsexual that she was unaware because she she says, I never feel of being a woman, and now she's starting to transition to be a trans man by thinking then she was before a lesbian because she couldn't really. In her culture, there is not understanding of being a trans person, so there is many ways to prove the [00:47:30] ho how gay you are or how lesbian you are or how trans you are. But the United Nations has terrible ways to do that. So, um, for instance, in Czech Republic just five years ago, they were implanting Penis sensors. So something that you put in the Penis of the asylum seekers to check the arousal while watching porn movies, gay movies and these kind of things or very inclusive very intru intruded [00:48:00] questions just about the person just to assess their sexual orientation. And all these things were the ones that the United Nations was starting to see as a very something that need to be changed. So they created the number nine, guidelines to let to help, uh, case workers to improve their ways to assess cases. Because it's not good to ask these questions, Uh, when you don't really know how to ask these questions. [00:48:30] So So, like, they see a person, a woman, that she is a lesbian, but she has a Children. So how how is that possible? And she's just trying to explain she was raped in her country of origin and then because having a heterosexual behaviour is is a challenging thing to prove them that you are actually part of the LGBTI because you have a heterosexual behaviour or many other things. You know, many people try to conform, so [00:49:00] in those countries you have to conform to survive. And then the United Nations is asking you to not to conform so we can prove that you are who you are. So these kind of things that will change and they starting to be changed. So now protection in the field is how we help refugees like me when they are in countries of transition. This thing is not an important matter for New Zealand because New Zealand is considered a resettlement country rather than the country of transition. Because this country is good enough for LGBTI people to stay here. [00:49:30] So it's like how we help how we accept this. Accept, uh, help these refugees in many things like especially with housing and health, many of them having HIV and being untreated while being in the countries of of transition. Many trans women that started already transitioning have have to not access to to hormones like in my case when I was in Hong Kong and all sorts of issues like general facilitation, things like food having a job. But you as a refugee, you can't work in a country [00:50:00] of transition. You are completely forbidden of that. You are forbidden to study and all these kind of basic things that you are forbidden. And you know it's very difficult when you are in other countries. So how we can as refugees, make sure that every person can fulfil every single aspect of their lives and they can have a decent life in the country of transition. There is something that is called multiplicity effect, that you are not just a refugee, and you are also [00:50:30] a foreigner in a country and that you can experience racism and then you can experience transphobia or homophobia or intersex phobia and all these things together when we bring a refugee from other places. So this is something that we need to be aware of because a single person can be all the spectrum of of of things that we, you know, we need to protect someone whose race or religion [00:51:00] or origin may can create problems when they are trying to resettle in a place. Many people don't know that you can be protected under the United Nations for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex or transgender. And this is something that is very sad to know, because many people, they just, uh they don't understand. This means of the mechanisms of protection and they don't even understand how to access them. So they just [00:51:30] give up and they just, um, don't seek for protection. I didn't know that and I don't think many of you guys know about these things because it's really and it's a very difficult process. As you might know, to becoming a refugee is something that can take you years and and it's much suffering. And I don't think many people is willing to to wait so long because you have to stay in refugee camps for over five years without the ability to to work or study, especially if it's tertiary education. [00:52:00] Sometimes you can't sometimes you can't in Hong Ko. I wasn't able to study. Some countries allow you to study. Most of countries don't let you to work, so these kind of things OK, so we suffer when you're in those countries. Civil isolation. I was suffering from civil isolation when I was in a shipping container in Hong Kong. I don't think that's the way you should treat a person that's gender is different or sexual. Sexual [00:52:30] identity is different, but I know that doesn't give much funds for refugees. So I understand the limitations. But we also need to protect the dignity of a person because persons we are persons and we deserve to be treated with dignity. Um, also, we need to provide them a legal support because they don't have any legal support. We need to provide them H RT because many of them they don't have, uh I remember in Hong Kong one person [00:53:00] from China dying because they were not providing him their medication. And I know and I know this person died. Nowadays, you don't die for HIV. But he was dying because the government of Hong Kong wasn't giving him the medication. Then people that face many difficulties like a trans person with HIV. So trying to provide access [00:53:30] to this person is going to be super difficult. And then you know how it provides psychosocial services in house and and employment. So, basically, the resettlement is not different from the protection in the field, like how we provide these refugees. A safe housing, a safe job, a safe community, where to be and how we engage all these people in our own communities, in our gay community, lesbian community, a community trust community, everything to make them feel welcome because they come from a place they don't understand what is being welcome and what is being [00:54:00] embraced and celebrated. So that's something that we must we need to do to help them in their in their mental health because they don't really know what is to be accepted, right? So I just mentioned we need to care about the loved ones of the of the refugees, their partners, their dependents. Many of them have Children, their health, their community, their family. Many of them live their families forever like me, and they don't want to see their families back anymore. But not not [00:54:30] all of them have the same situation and how to provide safe, safe housing and employment. Thank you.
This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It may contain errors or omissions, so always listen back to the original media to confirm content.