An LGBTQI+ refugee woman found peace and safety, when got the right support

by the Athens Solidarity Center of SolidarityNow

S.M., is a transgender woman, originally from Pakistan. She is 26 years old and lives in Greece since December 2019. She was forced to leave her country because her life was at risk, both by her family but also by the social environment.

Before Christmas 2020, S.M. visited the Athens Solidarity Center (ASC), following a referral, initially seeking support to get her legal documents. For this reason, she started meeting with the ASC professionals in Legal and Social Services, being helped by an interpreter.

Her asylum application as a vulnerable person was accepted in priority since she had also been a victim of violence during her first stay in Greece. Subsequently, the legal service assisted her during the stage of submitting her application for international protection; during the preparation stage for her interview as well as during the interview itself which took place in the examination of her application in the first instance, where the service’s lawyers represented her.

Also, the social service tried to find safe housing for the beneficiary by submitting a request to the Ministry of Migration & Asylum so that S.M. could be housed in a protected environment. The result was positive!

Finally, she got asylum status by the Asylum Service. First, her application was examined in terms of the “Safe Third Country” concept, as she had passed through Turkey, but it was considered that the link within the meaning of the provisions of Law 4939/2022 cannot be considered sufficient and therefore her application was deemed admissible. Subsequently, the service examined the merits of her case, and it was decided that, even though her country of origin, Pakistan, is included in the national list of safe countries, the applicant nonetheless has a well-founded fear of persecution in her country, because she belongs to a certain social group.

S.M.’s case is one of the many cases of LGBTQI+ people that ASC deals with every day and an excellent example of the efficient collaboration among the different services which function complementary within the Centre.

S.M. thanked the whole team: “I feel that I love you, you helped me like no one else, I am very happy”.

 * Since August 2022, the Athens Solidarity Center is financed by EEA Grants, with ΣΟΛ Crowe and HumanRights360 as the fund operator.

**The Center is also supported by the Municipality of Athens.