Belgium’s LGTB refuge marks first anniversary

Belgium’s first LGTB refuge is marking its first anniversary.  The refuge in Brussels was set up to provide accommodation for gays, lesbians and transgenders who suffer rejection at home and are threatened because of their sexual preference.

VRT Radio 2 spoke with Thibauld, a 21-year-old, who found a temporary home here.  Thibauld arrived at the refuge last October after the umpteenth argument with his parents.  His news that he was gay was met with untold pestering: “It went from bad to worse.  At one point I was locked up in my room at night. I couldn’t visit the toilet.  I had to urinate in a bottle.  They wouldn’t allow me to take food from the fridge or have a shower.”

“I don’t know where I would have ended up, if there hadn’t been this refuge! Probably I would have ended up on the street and my life would have been very different.”

In its first year of operation the refuge has provided a home to 17 youngsters aged between 18 and 25 including several asylum seekers.

Dimitri Verdonck: “Many people leave their home country because of their sexual preference.  In asylum centres too they often end up in conflicts. Gays, lesbians and transgenders aren’t always accepted.”

The refuge tries to help these youngsters build a new life. Thibauld says: “Here nobody bothers us.”

After nine months he’s ready to move on.

“I’m looking for a job as a care worker and am flat-hunting.”

He hopes his parents will accept him one day, because their rejection still hurts.

The refuge too is seeking fresh accommodation.  It only has room for 8 youngsters, while there is one application every single week. Flanders doesn’t yet boast a similar refuge, though Flemish youngsters can come to Brussels.  A solution closer to home may be more welcome to some of them.

AFP or licensors