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15-01-2022

Intersectional Challenges: How (Not) to Study and Support LGBTQs with a Migration Background

Authors: Alexander Dhoest, Marion Wasserbauer

Published in: Sexuality Research and Social Policy

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Abstract

Introduction

This article reports on a government-funded research project exploring the problems experienced by LGBTQs with a migration background living in Belgium, to guide future policies aiming to support this target group and to increase acceptance of LGBTQs within their ethno-cultural communities.

Methods

In 2019 and 2020, in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 LGBTQ individuals belonging to Moroccan, Turkish and Congolese communities in Belgium, complemented by 10 expert interviews with persons who have professional, activist and/or personal expertise in relation to this intersection.

Results

Across the three communities, several thresholds and problems were identified in relation to the acceptance of homosexuality, rigid gender roles, and intersectional experiences of racism and exclusion. To address these problems, the participants and experts cautioned against the use of “shock tactics” or a one-sided focus on culture and religion. Instead, they proposed government support of bottom-up initiatives taken within the communities, increased social and media representation, and education on sexual diversity at schools.

Conclusions

The limited acceptance of LGBTQs is not only connected to particular cultures and religions. To increase acceptance, policies should support changes from within rather than working top-down.

Policy Implications

To be effective and supported by the targeted communities, future policies as well as government-funded research should involve people from the targeted communities from the start, following the principle “nothing about us without us.”

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Footnotes
1
We use the term “people with a migration background” as it is most used in Flanders to refer to people with a foreign nationality or who have one or both parents born with a foreign nationality. In 2020, 23.5% of the Flemish population had a migration background, 56.9% of which had roots outside of the EU, i.e., about 13% of the Flemish population. (source: statbel.fgov.be).
 
2
Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual. We will use the acronym “LGBTQ” (for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) as an umbrella term througout the text, unless we refer to sources using other terms, which is the case here.
 
3
All participants indicated on the consent form whether they preferred a pseudonym or their real first name to be used. To maintain anonymity, we do not provide their age, but we do mention their gender identity and ethno-cultural background.
 
4
The interviews were conducted in Dutch, English or French, and all non-English quotes have been translated by the authors.
 
5
Belgium colonized the area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1885 and 1960.
 
6
A full version is available in the Dutch-language research report.
 
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Metadata
Title
Intersectional Challenges: How (Not) to Study and Support LGBTQs with a Migration Background
Authors
Alexander Dhoest
Marion Wasserbauer
Publication date
15-01-2022
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Sexuality Research and Social Policy
Print ISSN: 1868-9884
Electronic ISSN: 1553-6610
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-021-00683-7