The first refuge in Belgium for LGBT youth has opened in Brussels. According to Victor Madrigal-Borloz, an expert appointed by the UK, between 20% and 50% of all homeless young people in the world are LGBT. In Brussels, the Rainbow House representative organisation every week sees the arrival of young people who have been thrown out on the streets by their families because of hostility towards their sexual or gender orientation.
Until now, such young people in Brussels have had no-one to turn to but Samusocial, the organisation that deals with the homeless – but that can place them in a situation as vulnerable as sleeping on the streets.
The new refuge – an initiative by the non-profit Midnimo – only deals with young people, who are considered most at risk, according to co-founder Cristophe Degraeuwe. “Specifically, we’re aiming at young people from 18 to 25 who are the most fragile when in confrontation with their families. These are people who have a real need for a bit of support and help in finding their way,” he told the VRT.
The new centre is an apartment with two bedrooms, able to accommodate four young people at one time. The maximum stay is three months, during which time they can receive legal and psychological help, as well as social guidance provided by volunteers. At the end of three months, social workers seek to provide further guidance. The City of Brussels has provided a subsidy of €50,000, enough to finance the operation for the rest of this year, but the coming years remain uncertain.
The location of the refuge is not being revealed, for reasons of privacy and the safety of the young people.