Six tips when interpreting for LGBT+ asylum seekers
Did you know that February is LGBT+ History Month? Since 2005 this month has been an opportunity to learn about the history of LGBT+ people and activism, as well as a chance to confront the barriers and prejudices that LGBT+ people still face.
Last year, we partnered with Micro Rainbow to share some tips for any interpreters working with LGBT+ asylum seekers. These six tips can help ensure LGBT+ asylum seekers are treated with the respect they deserve.
Clear Voice is proud to work with Micro Rainbow, a charity which offers specialist support services to LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers. Their vision is to create a world where LGBT+ people are free from discrimination, persecution, and have equal opportunities in life.
Why interpreting for LGBT+ asylum seekers is so important
The process of applying for asylum as an LGBT+ person can be very daunting. Not only are you in a new country, surrounded by new norms, new people, and new experiences, but you may also be struggling to communicate in a new language.
Theoretically, an asylum seeker’s ability to speak English should not affect their ability to file their asylum claim. The Home Office has an obligation to provide an interpreter during both the screening and substantive interviews, and asylum seekers often utilise this interpreting service. However, for LGBT+ asylum seekers, speaking through an interpreter can be fraught with fear and misunderstanding.
Micro Rainbow has seen first-hand many of the ways that unprofessional interpreting can affect the claims of LGBT+ asylum seekers. This can particularly be in the form of mistranslation of terms involving sexuality and relationships. For example, downplaying the seriousness of a client’s same-sex relationships or inaccurately translating a client’s self-identified sexuality. Understandably, experiences like this can cause some clients to avoid seeking interpreters, fearing their stories will not be taken seriously, or worse, will be misrepresented.
However, their experiences as LGBT+ people are often highly relevant to their asylum claim. It is extremely important that LGBT+ asylum seekers feel comfortable describing these topics through an interpreter.
6 tips for interpreters working with LGBT+ people
1. At the very start, be sure to explain that you are not there to judge them and that anything that you learn about them will be entirely confidential.
2. Read this guide to learn about the appropriate terms to use concerning LGBT+ identities (as well as which derogatory terms to avoid) for English, French, Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic.
3. If you are unsure how someone identifies – and if this information is relevant – ask them. Use the terms and pronouns that are used by the person themselves.
4. Do not make assumptions about the sexuality or gender identity of the person with whom you are speaking.
5. Do not label a person unless they label themselves.
6. Maintain a neutral tone of voice when discussing sexuality, gender identity or intersex status.
LGBT+ people seeking asylum in the UK deserve to be treated with respect while applying for refugee status. As a result, they must have their stories told accurately and their voices heard clearly. With your help, we can ensure that LGBT+ asylum seekers are treated with the dignity that every asylum seeker deserves.
How to help?
If you speak another language, consider becoming an interpreter with Clear Voice. We are a unique social enterprise and donate 100% of our profits to Migrant Help.
Written by Micro Rainbow in partnership with Clear Voice Interpreting Services.