AsylumConnect connects LGBTQ+ asylum seekers with safe and legal resources in the U.S.
“LGBTQ asylum seekers are really at the intersection of two very marginalized identities,” the website’s co-founder and president Katie Sgarro explained. “The first being obviously asylum seekers, but also the LGBTQ identity.”
LGBTQ+ asylum seekers flee persecution in their home countries based on sexual orientation of gender identity. The Asylum Connect site links users to resources including: transportation, mental health support, translation, legal assistance, housing assistance, and food.
“These organizations have been verified to be LGBTQ-affirming, Sgarro said. She and co-founder, Sy, a former asylum seeker, created AsylumConnect as students at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We really thought that LGBTQ asylum seekers deserved their own tailored platforms,” she explained. “As someone who was not able to come out publicly until after 10 years of being in the closet, the experience of knowing what that feels like really resonated with me.”
Since 2016, the site says it has helped more than 11,000 users connect with services. It can be translated into more than 100 languages. Sgarro hopes to keep expanding beyond U.S. borders in light of Trump’s recent policy that makes asylum seekers wait outside the U.S.
“We really want LGBTQ asylum seekers to know that they belong and that there are people in the United States and beyond that care about them, and that really respect their right to live authentically,” she said.