LGBTQ+ youth and refugees

Woman waving rainbow flag
  • What specific challenges do LGBTQ+ refugees and youth face, due to their overlapping marginalized identities?

  • How can exclusion at school be reduced and awareness raised?

These are the two main questions raised by this new research project 'Helping municipal policy makers and school children better understand the life experiences of LGBTQ youth and refugees in The Hague – A collaborative project involving universities, NGOs and secondary-education schools in The Hague' (LGBTQ+ Youth and Refugees).

About the research

LGBTQ+ young people are at a much higher risk of social isolation and depression than their peers. Moreover, they are often less accepted by peers from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds. The problem is especially critical for LGBTQ+ youth still living within conservative family environments.

improving equal opportunities and social safety of LGBTQ young people and refugees in The Hague

In parallel, LGBTQ+ refugees face discrimination in several fronts (in the housing market, in accessing employment and in social engagements more broadly), discrimination which often extends to limited acceptance within their own refugee and diaspora communities.

Their combined multiple identities as LGBTQ+, refugees, and often people of color reinforce their vulnerability and potentially impacts their perception of being/feeling ‘integrated’ within the city of The Hague as their new home.

Project aims

This project aims to improve equal opportunities and social safety of LGBTQ young people and refugees in The Hague.

It will research the recent life experiences of members belonging to these vulnerable LGBTQ+ groups by hiring research assistants from the target groups themselves, following a citizen science approach. The research assistants will be equipped with skills that can strengthen their career perspectives within the city of The Hague and the region South Holland.

Rainbow stairs in The Hague

The project also aims to foster a collaborative network of knowledge-sharing amongst multiple stakeholders, including universities, NGOs, schools, and the municipality of The Hague.

The project team will also organize visits to secondary schools where it will screen a documentary. This film will be created during the project, based on the research findings.

The visits and screenings of the documentary in secondary schools are intended to raise awareness on LGBTQ issues and reduce social exclusion. This will help bring students closer to the realities of their own urban environment and encourages them to co-reflect on solutions. Priority will be given to schools with traditionally more conservative attitudes towards LGBTQ+ issues.

The project will take place entirely in The Hague.


Estimates on the demographics of sexual orientation in the Netherlands point to about 5% of boys and 4% of girls identifying as homosexuals or bisexuals.

Several LGBTQ+ young people face limited family and social acceptance and, as a result, there are also about 1 to 2 thousand homeless young LGBTQ+ people in the Netherlands, half of whom are estimated to be of a non-Western background.

LGBTQ+ refugees is another vulnerable community in the Netherlands, for which limited official statistics are released. Being both refugees and LGBTQ+, they face discrimination at multiple fronts, often also within their own refugee and ethnic communities.

Naturally these two vulnerable LGBTQ+ communities overlap, since many LGBTQ+ refugees are of a relatively young age.

LGBTQ+ young and refugees are priority groups that deserve extra attention, given their constrained emancipation in relation to other queer groups

In its 2020 policy document 'Queer in Hen Haag: veilig, zichtbaar en geaccepteerd' (Queer in The Hague: safe, visible and accepted), the municipality of The Hague acknowledges that LGBTQ+ young and refugees are priority groups that deserve extra attention, given their constrained emancipation in relation to other queer groups.

In acknowledgement of this particular precariousness for LGBTQ+ youth and refugees, the municipality adopted a queer-focused action programme (Actieprogramma) for 2020-2022, which aimed to improve the safety, visibility and acceptance for these vulnerable communities.

Why is this research relevant?

Given that those two groups face urgent challenges and discrimination in this day and age, their experiences and needs call for special attention. This has been recognized by the municipality itself.

LGBTQ+ Youth - Rainbow flag from below
Mercedes Mehling

Long-term impacts

The project will provide concrete policy recommendations on interventions enabling the municipality to address concerns within the LGBTQ+ refugee and youth communities. These aim to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ issues and improve the wellbeing of the respective communities.

During the project the research team will organize engagement activities that aim to build a local network that remains active after the project ends. The training of LGBTQ+ young and refugee researchers will provide essential employability skills like data collection and analysis, teamwork, presentation and communication.

Research partners

Partners in the consortium are The Hague University of Applied Sciences as well as LGBTQ+ NGOs – among which Rainbow Den Haag.

Contact the project leader

Elissaios Papyrakis

Dr Elissaios Papyrakis

Email address

Contact the project leader, Dr Elissaios Papyrakis if you would like to learn more about this project.


This project is funded by the Municipality of The Hague via it's 'Subsidieregeling Hoger Onderwijs Den Haag 2022' (subsidy regulation higher education).

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