On May 5th label Unknown is celebrating its 1-year anniversary with a special edition at their permanent location “de Prael Houthavens”. It’s going to be a day and night program filled with musical talent including Copenhagen based dj & producer NANDU and Amsterdam pioneer KRAUT, the new moniker of Amsterdam’s household name Daniel Zuur.
Prior to the musical line up, Label Unknown is the proud host of the official launch of the documentary “Not Gay Enough”; raising attention for LGBT refugees coming to the Netherlands and the problems they face with the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Council).
Sandro Kortekaas, initiator of the voluntary organization “LGBT Asylum Support”, lobbies with a variety of organizations, politicians and offers legal support to refugees who are often refused to get asylum in the Netherlands, as they are not officially “proven” to be gay.
We interviewed Sandro about his work and the urgent need to change our current system to provide a fair and safe process for those in need.
Sandro, could you give a short description of your organization?
LGBT Asylum Support is a small NGO helping and guiding LGBTI-refugees who are new in the Netherlands.
You currently got nationwide attention after BNN-VARA “Spuiten en Slikken” dedicated an entire program on this issue where you launched the petition “Not Gay Enough”. How is it going so far?
At “Spuiten en Slikken” we gave the Dutch audience a small insight in how the IND judges over LGBTI-refugees. A very complicated matter. We worked half year to have the program ready, meanwhile getting attention with the petition ‘NietGayGenoeg’. Finally as a result of this, we achieved the motion in the House of Parliament in which State Secretary Mark Harbers by D66 as the leading party was told to update this working instruction. This document lies under every interview for LGBTI-refugees now.
It seems like you are getting more and more refugees that are relying on your help. How do you manage all these requests?
That is complicated. We support refugees throughout the Netherlands who are in need like the huge group of Cuban LGBTI refugees, the smaller group of Ukraine Refugees but also individual cases. As a chairman for the last 2 ½ years it takes all my possible time including weekends. Our group is small but within our group, I get maximum support.
Are there currently any other organizations focusing on the same problems?
We work together with many cocktail projects by COC but also other initiatives like Rainbow Refugees Den Haag and Nijmegen. We want to be an active bridge between organizations. Most LGBTI-refugees who seek help do not know if someone is from a certain organization. They just look for help. During court cases and being part of the IND interview process, we are still one of the few LGBTI-organizations being allowed to witness at court when IND is not trusting a certain LGBTI refugee.
On May 5th you will be at Label Unknown launching the documentary “Not Gay Enough”. What would you like to achieve with this documentary?
The documentary shows us what is means to not being believed as an LGBTI-refugee. For all of them there is no way back. These are not economic refugees but refugees who come on humanitarian grounds and are asking for a safe place as LGBTI. Most of them just did not realize the whole asylum process could be so difficult. They become insecure, don’t know how to answer the questions and feel threatened and scared. In many cases this results in LGBTI refugees not being believed and finally being seen as criminals who have to defend themselves at court or even worse, find themselves in detention.
Many people simply have no idea about the current process. Many of us believe that we are a liberated and free country where everybody is accepted for who they are. We want to shed light on the truth by sharing this with the crowd, who can make up their mind and make a positive change to humanity!
It is great that Label Unknown is facilitating this extended Inspiration Session and hopefully we can inspire as many of the crowd out there.
We are looking forwards to May 5th!