Obstacles on the Journey

For LGBTQIA+ people, knowing you need to find safety is only the first hurdle.

Take Action!

Share these social media graphics online and with your friends and family to help build understanding of some of the hurdles LGBTQIA+ people around the world can face in their pursuit of finding safety and community.

Use this social media toolkit with graphics, Tweets, and captions!


Support the #FreeBlock13 campaign

“Block 13” is an area of Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where over 130 LGBTQIA+ refugees  live in community. Though many Block 13 residents fled their homes to escape persecution for their gender or sexual identities, they have continuously faced violence and mistreatment by other camp residents and locals. In February 2021, three gay men were rushed to the hospital for treatment after their bedding was set alight while they slept. Block 13 residents are calling for greater protection, and to be relocated collectively where they may find greater safety.

LGBTQIA+ refugees deserve safety. They should not be met with violence in the places they have sought refuge. Join the #FreeBlock13 campaign by 1) uplifting the demands of Block 13 residents, including sharing their community statement; 2) following the and sharing #Block13 and #FreeBlock13; and 3) support Block 13 residents, including donating to Jordan who was harmed in the latest attack  bit.ly/KakumaHRD.


Support the #FreeMaura campaign

Maura Martinez fled her home at 15 fearing the discrimination she faced as a young trans woman, and in hope she could find a home to live freely and authentically. She found just that in San Diego, building a welcoming and affirming community. Despite becoming a lawful permanent resident, Maura was detained by ICE and has remained in their custody for over two years, and continues to be met with abuse and medical neglect.

Maura, and all trans people in detention, deserve safety, freedom, and affirmation. Join the #FreeMaura campaign by 1) uplifting her story on social media, 2) signing the petition for her release at bit.ly/FreeMaura, and 3) enlisting your friends, family, or community to do the same.

What are some of the obstacles?

There are nearly 80 million people around the world who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, fleeing war and violence, or persecution for their beliefs or even their gender or sexual orientation. While there are humanitarian systems and organizations around the world working to meet the needs of forcibly displaced people, those systems were not made with LGBTQIA+ people in mind.

This can mean that there are fewer paths available to queer people to escape dangerous situations, and even once they do leave home, they can be met with continued violence and neglect in refugee camps or even US detention centers.

Needing a path

For LGBTQIA+ people in need of safety, they may be fleeing violence from the state, their community, their families, or even all of the above; and with 69 countries in the world still criminalizing same sex marriages, finding freedom from violence can be less than accessible.

Rainbow Railroad provides emergency travel to queer people facing imminent danger, finding paths to safety at every level – from finding safe houses to identifying where they can seek long term relief.

Treatment in refugee camps

The first stop for millions fleeing violence or conflict is to seek refuge at a refugee camp, where aid workers are intended to offer short term safety and care. However, for LGBTQIA+ people fleeing conflict, they can be met with the same kinds of discriminatory and violent actions they endured at home.

This is the case for LGBTQIA+ refugees at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Over 130 queer refugees live together in part of the Kakuma refugee camp known as “Block 13,” and they have been continuously targeted by other camp residents and locals for their gender and sexual identities.


Treatment in US detention centers

Even in countries that have relatively greater legal protections of LGBTQIA+ people, such as the United States, queer people – particularly trans women – must navigate discrimination. Reports from immigration detention centers have cataloged continuous medical neglect and abuse of trans women seeking asylum.

Maura Martinez came to the US to escape threats and violence she faced as a trans woman. She successfully managed to build new community that supports and affirms her. But she was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement two years ago, and has remained in custody, facing discrimination and no clarity on when she will be released.


Our lead organizations

American Friends Service Committee

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization working to build a world free from violence, oppression, and inequality. Among AFSC’s many issues, they advocate in defense of immigrant rights rooted in the belief that all people are deserving of safety and dignity.

Amnesty International USA

Amnesty International USA is a branch of the global Amnesty International project, serving to combat injustices and protect the human rights of all around the world and here in the US. Amnesty International USA is deeply involved in the service of refugee and migrant rights, and the ending of immigration detention.


Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project

The Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP) is led by directly impacted staff and steering committee aiming to build power and community for Black LGBTQIA+ migrants in service of a vision where no person is forced to leave their homelands. BLMP pursues this work through national organizing, deepening local networks, direct deportation defense, and engaging in research to transform narratives around queer Black migrants.

Rainbow Railroad

Rainbow Railroad is a global nonprofit that works to assist LGBTQIA+ folks facing discrimination, persecution, or violence for their gender or sexual identities to find greater safety. This work includes offering immediate on the ground care, such as finding safe houses, and longer term solutions like identifying paths to relocation. Rainbow Railroad has helped over 1,600 LGBTQIA+ people find greater safety.