Help for queer refugees

Finding accommodation, counselling, donations - the Rainbow Refugee Support Association is committed to helping refugees from Ukraine.

The Rainbow Refugees are championing refugees from Ukraine.
The Rainbow Refugees are championing refugees from Ukraine. picture alliance / Pacific Press
Knud Wechterstein
Knud Wechterstein, co-founded the Frankfurt Rainbow Refugees Association.

Mr Wechterstein, what does your work currently look like?
The Rainbow Refugee Support Association of Aidshilfe Frankfurt e. V. has been advising and supporting LSBTIQ+refugees in the greater Frankfurt area who are seeking asylum in Germany since 2015. We’re currently helping the first queer people who have fled from Ukraine. We receive requests via social media on a daily basis. Our main task now is to arrange private housing. But we also offer outpatient counselling and try to offer financial support with money from a fundraising campaign.

The commitment and solidarity in society is really high at the moment.

Knud Wechterstein

Where do you find accommodation for the refugees?
We have many people, especially from the community, who have agreed to host refugees in their homes. Above all, long-term solutions for people who want to stay in Germany will become increasingly important here in the coming weeks. But the commitment and solidarity in society is really great at the moment. That makes me happy every day.

Who is contacting you? Ukrainian men have to stay in Ukraine.
At the moment there are many women travelling as couples, lesbian couples, but also a rainbow family with three children has got in touch with us. Fortunately, we were able to find a suitable flat for them yesterday. Queer men from third countries who have worked or studied in Ukraine also come to us. They often can’t return to their countries of origin because queer people are persecuted there. This is an issue that needs more attention and political support.

Many people arrive here traumatised. How do you deal with that? How do you break down their mistrust?
There are two things that help a lot. First, when the volunteers are also queer. Then you have a direct point of contact, can integrate the refugees into the community and usually have a basis of trust. Secondly: the language. This point is almost even more important. Fortunately, we have a large Russian-speaking queer community in Frankfurt that is very committed. Many volunteers translate during counselling sessions or speak directly with the refugees. We experience that many then immediately lose their inhibitions and speak in their mother tongue about the traumatising experiences of the war.

If you want to help, you can find more information here.

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