Earlier this month, many of us celebrated Mardi Gras and our LGBTIQ+ community in general. However, it is important that work supporting LGBTIQ+ peoples occurs in a meaningful and ongoing manner, beyond any one day on the calendar. That is where organisations such as Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN) come in. FDPN is the first organisation in Australia to specifically dedicate its work to the issue of LGBTIQ+ forced displacement. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, forced displacement can be understood as movement of a person or peoples away from their home/home region that is involuntary or occurs through coercion.
FDPN, which has been operating as an organisation since 2019, works to promote the human rights and inclusion of peoples experiencing displacement through providing peer support and working to strengthen services and policy responses. The vision that underpins the work of FDPN is a world where forcibly displaced peoples live in an inclusive society where they are safe, free and supported. Their dual objectives are to provide benevolent relief to alleviate the suffering and isolation of LGBTIQ+ people in forced displacement, and to support these forcibly displaced persons through initiatives such as online and/or face-to-face meetings.
The team at FDPN explain that current mainstream discourse concerning refugees is very heteronormative.
“There is a need to widen the aperture about who can be a refugee. There is no one paradigmatic refugee,” the team tell us.
We as a society must do more to acknowledge queer based forced displacement, and apply an intersectional framework to the ways in which we understand and work with refugees. LGBTIQ+ people are under “a continuous threat of human rights abuses due to discriminatory laws and hostile societal attitudes”. For example, over 70 countries criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts and death penalty is a possibility in 11 of those countries, which often leads to the forced displacement of queer people. It is then difficult for queer refugees to find the services and advocacy they require to find safety and long-term resettlement.
FDPN support LGBTIQ+ displaced people in Australia in a number of meaningful ways. Their current work includes providing assistance to queer refugees with phone credit vouchers, grocery vouchers, and facilitating connections with others to foster a community. The team are also currently working on rolling out an online training module that is designed to increase the capacity of various community services in providing affirming, safe and inclusive support of LGBTIQ+ displaced people.
The organisation has various goals for the future, including looking to expand the support they provide in the mental health space and working with government for a permanent increase in queer-based refugee intake.
How can you help?
You can support FDPN and the work they do in a number of ways – follow the links below.
Contribute a once-off or monthly donation here
Complete the capacity building training course here
Purchase a FDPN poster here
Follow FDPN on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Welcome Merchant are donating $5 from each Goody Box sold this month to FDPN. Shop our Goody Boxes here.