When LGBT People Face Forced Migration or Torture, What is the Role of Psychology?

A Mixed Context Globally

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their concerns have become increasingly visible around the world. As awareness grows, and as more people come out by choice or are outed by others, reactions to these populations play out in ways both favorable and appalling.

Among the favorable developments, including an uptick in affirming LGBT- related public policy in some countries, is the increase in the past few years of international, national and regional psychological organizations formally adopting LGBT affirmative policies and using scientific knowledge to inform their statements against discrimination and sexual orientation change effort, and for affirmative practices with clients.

As the United Nations and other international human rights and health bodies have moved toward a conceptualization of LGBT people being entitled to human rights and health and have made formal statements (PDF, 706KB) against having human rights dismissed or violated because of LGBT status, there has been significant pushback from some nations insisting "traditional values" that have long suppressed women and sexual and gender minorities should be the legitimate basis for what are recognized as human rights.

Consequences

It is in this mixed context that other social and political crises play out that may affect entire populations and where LGBT people may face heightened vulnerability for scapegoating and persecution. It is also in this context that LGBT discrimination and criminalization may be state policy. These conditions for any combination of reasons may lead to forced migrations, to people enduring torture or being murdered because of their LGBT status (whether real or perceived), and to people fleeing homes, communities and countries to save their own lives.

Role of Psychology

In response to the human impact of all of this there is a growing literature on how to work with and protect the individuals affected. There is also increasing attention to training for graduate students, forensic psychologists and other scientists, and clinicians, on working with displaced, escaping or physically and psychologically victimized LGBT people.

The various organizations highlighted here provide clinical psychologists with opportunities to offer pro-bono assessment and counseling services. This is also a topic area with great potential for researchers to make significant contributions.

This page represents an effort to highlight the literature and opportunities for training, practice, and research pertinent to psychologists in particular. It also represents an effort to help educate professionals already involved in other arenas of this work, as well as a more general public, to recognize and better understand psychology's role.

General Information and Resources

Literature
Resources and Training

LGBT Specific Information & Resources

Literature  
Resources and Training

International Documents