OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Digital Information Hub: Providing LGBTIQ asylum seekers with tools to empower themselves on the move.

Access to reliable information and services to empower LGBTIQ people on the move to make their own choices.

Photo of Anna Fontanini
2 3

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

LGBTIQ asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle of Central America face a perilous journey from the moment they cross the southern Mexican border in search of safety. They are often doubly marginalized both from the local community and fellow refugees, experiencing xenophobic attitudes and discrimination and violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression (SOGIE). Most LGBTIQ asylum seekers are pushed to the margins of society and have limited access to information and services. This is the case for most sexual and gender minorities (SGM) as they conceal their true identity in order to avoid hostility, thereby trying to remain socially invisible. We intend to collaborate with local shelters along the migratory pathway to create interactive information booths, which will include visual concepts such as short videos and digital displays. The goal is to provide important LGBTIQ tailored information and guidance. ORAM will partner with local stakeholders in the field to identify the most frequently asked questions and develop the appropriate answers. Our digital displays will inform asylum seekers about safety concerns, providing facts about the registration process, inform them of their rights and access to safe housing along their route. Clear visualization of migration information is one of the best tools to use to educate and inform. The booths will also connect asylum seekers to local LGBTIQ groups in order to create a wider network and connect them to important resources like LGBTIQ friendly medical centers and lawyers. We aim to build a connection between local communities and newly arriving LGBTIQ asylum seekers through personal testimonies to help increase awareness. Through collaboration with local stakeholders and digital design teams, we hope to foster a sense of integration. This will empower LGBTIQ asylum seekers to make their own decision about their future, rather than facing a future in limbo

Geography of focus (500 characters)

While Mexico has long been known as a nation of emigrants, it has become an important transit country for people leaving Central America for the United States (US), a destination country and more recently, a country of return. LGBTIQ individuals are particularly vulnerable when migrating and often suffer double stigmatization in Mexico: xenophobic attitudes and harassment due to their SOGIE. This marginalizes people, limiting their access to information, rights and services.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

This visual informative tool dedicated to educating and connecting LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees to local protection and LGBTIQ services will build a bridge between all LGBTIQ communities in Mexico, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. The tool will empower displaced LGBTIQ individuals in Mexico to integrate into the local community and gain a sense of belonging to the wider LGBTIQ community.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Along the migration route there is a lack of credible information and support, causing many LGBTIQ asylum seekers to feel isolated. Access to information will enable LGBTIQ asylum seekers to make active, well informed choices about their future. Making their own choices and giving them agency in their life will allow the LGBTIQ community to live a dignified life on their journey of seeking safety, sparking hope for a sustainable joyful future. By enabling them to take control of their own lives and decisions, they will no longer feel lost and dependent on others. Giving LGBTIQ asylum seekers the opportunity to engage with the local host community through local LGBTIQ hot spots or community centers will provide a sense of normality, freedom from anxiety and opportunities to integrate. Connecting LGBTIQ asylum seekers to other personal stories from members of their community will foster a sense of acceptance and belonging.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

The community will receive information about their right to seek international protection in Mexico or in the US. They will understand their legal rights while in transit and will consequently be able to decide where and how to move or integrate, how to access the system of protection, where to find service providers and legal support. Thanks to this, LGBTIQ asylum seekers will have the same opportunities to access shelter and services as other people on the move. This tool will reduce the marginalization produced by harassment, violence and fear that the community face along their path to safety. While in detention, LGBTIQ asylum seekers can file a claim for international protection but their lack of knowledge about their rights prevents them from doing so. Our tool creates a network for safe support dedicated to LGBTIQ asylum seekers and allows us to evaluate the impact of the project by monitoring grounds of asylum following successful Refugee Status decisions.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

For the last decade, ORAM has been working with LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees in transit countries worldwide, ensuring that they are aware of their rights and legally assisting them in their asylum claims. LGBTIQ asylum seekers are considered an extremely vulnerable migrant population, due to their unique protection needs and previous experience with discrimination and violence. The testimonies and knowledge of our clients have inspired us. Thanks to their testimonies, we know that one of the main difficulties they face is safety. Safety can be achieved in several ways: after physical safety in form of a shelter that responds to specific needs, safety can be provided through the empowerment of individuals and their freedom to make choices. LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees are often forgotten in the system, as authorities rarely know about their specific needs. When people understand their surroundings, they can choose the safest option that fits their specific needs.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

People in Central America are fleeing high levels of violence, but LGBTIQ individuals are fleeing persecution based on their SOGIE, something that no human being should be asked to hide or change. During their search for safety they face extreme danger, experiencing high levels of homophobic discriminatory attitudes towards them, amplified by the fact that they are in a foreign country without any network of support. They face discrimination while trying to access protection services and the risk of detention is always imminent. LGBTIQ asylum seekers encounter greater risks whilst in detention owing to the presence of homophobic attitudes of the populations in detention centres and even of the authorities. A greater fear of detention forces LGBTIQ asylum seekers on the move to take more isolated routes through the country. This increases the risk of aggression and sexual violence or exploitation at the hands of criminal gangs.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

LGBTIQ asylum seekers often flee their country of origin alone or with a partner, but they lack a network of support. In Mexico there is a large variety of LGBTIQ organizations and community support groups ready to provide that network needed to start integrating in a new country. Those organizations and shelters are widespread throughout the vast Mexican territory. By connecting individuals to supporting communities and service providers dispersed around the country, a network will be created outside the country of origin that will give LGBTIQ asylum seekers the strength to establish a new life. The vibrant LGBTIQ community in Mexico will act as mentors to LGBTIQ asylum seekers, educating the newcomers to adapt to the new country’s different level of acceptance towards LGBTIQ.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We aim to work with local shelters along the migratory routes in Mexico and close to the borders (Northern and Southern). More specifically, with individualized locally run shelters, such as Cobina Posada del Migrante, an LGBTIQ run shelter. We wish to collaborate with them in establishing a point within the shelter where we may set up our booth. The local shelters will also manage the flux of people accessing our tool and together we will create workshops on how to use the tool independently. We also aim to work with local organizations in the country such as Sin Fronteras, Fundacion Arcoiris and Asylum Access in order to form with them the needed network of support. Another essential partner will be the digital company that will assist in the development of the booth design.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Technology-enabled: Existing approach is more effective or scalable with the addition of technology

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

ORAM, Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

ORAM, Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration specializes in the protection of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees. Over the last decade, we have worked with LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees in transit countries worldwide, providing legal representation and guidance during their asylum claims. ORAM also offers a global helpline for LGBTIQ persons around the world offering assistance and referrals. We have already begun some of the ground level work, connecting with local stakeholders and documenting the needs and stories of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees along the migratory routes in Mexico.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rebeccah Bartlett

Hi Anna, Check this grant out!! It just came through I think.

Call for applications
HRP and TDR in collaboration with PAHO and CEMICAMP
To carry-out research on sexual and reproductive health and rights and infectious diseases of
poverty linked to the current mass migration in the Americas with a focus on research capacity
Deadline for submission: 13 October 2019 by 23:59 GMT -3

Photo of Anna Fontanini

Thank you Rebeccah!
Unfortunately it seems out of our focus. We do not work directly with health, but more with asylum right of vulnerable population.
But thank you very much for sharing!