Against Abandonment: Activist-Humanitarian Responses to LGBT Refugees in Athens and Beirut

Ali Reda, Philip Proudfoot

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4 Citations (SciVal)


This paper compares LGBT ‘activist-humanitarianism’ in Beirut and Athens. In both locations, ‘out' or ‘outed' refugees endure a unique combination of structural and physical violence. In response, LGBT activist and their allies have established grassroots aid and solidarity networks. In Beirut we examine an LGBT-advocacy NGO that offers legal aid and training to LGBT refugees and Lebanese citizens. In Athens we consider two self-organised horizontalist support groups. From a comparative ethnographic perspective, we explore how each sought to improve the wellbeing of LGBT refugees. We conclude that while the structural limitations of ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘NGO-isation’ frustrated the emergence of a fully alternative activist-orientated humanitarianism, the groups nonetheless produced significant yet often ‘unintended’ impacts on refugee lives. Where our informants felt much of the groups’ activities and training sessions were ineffective, they nonetheless harnessed marginal aspects of the projects, such as the provision of social space. Through this, they went on to build practical solidarity and develop a political critique of their predicaments as refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1494–1515
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number2
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


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