LGBTI Migrants in Immigration Detention: A Global Perspective, Shana Tabak & Rachel Levitan, 37 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender No. 1 (2014)

Research and Journal Articles

All immigrant detainees are at high risk for treatment that violates their human rights; but those who identify as LGBTI are at even higher risk for abuse, including targeted violence and sexual assault. Many LGBTI detainees seek asylum based on this type of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in their home countries. The authors identify the most pressing human rights challenges for detained LGBTI migrants as physical and sexual violence from both facility staff and other detained persons; indefinite or arbitrary detention; barriers to medical care, including treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, gender affirming care for transgender migrants, and mental health services; and challenges securing legal services.

In addition to calling for increased awareness, data, and research on LGBTI immigrant detainees, the authors call for states to provide alternatives to detention and alternative sentencing procedures for all self-identified LGBTI individuals, with detention serving only as a last resort. For LGBTI individuals the state determines must be detained, the authors recommend allowing for confidential self-identification of LGBTI identity; appropriate training for all detention facility staff to address the protection needs of LGBTI individuals; and access to appropriate health care, welfare services, and contact with the outside world, including legal counsel and external LGBTI support systems.