Among the refugees who are received in the The Hague region is a group that is in extra trouble: lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT's). They have often fled their own country because of discrimination and violence, but in the Dutch reception centers they are still confronted with a negative attitude towards their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Moreover, most LGBT refugees do not receive support from compatriots and family, which threatens social isolation. That is why COC Haaglanden is starting the Cocktail buddy project.
Cocktail matches the newcomers one on one with volunteers who are familiar with Roze Den Haag. Cocktail wants to help the newcomers build a social network in a safe way by organizing drinks, information evenings, cultural trips and language courses. The activities are aimed at strengthening mutual contact within the target group and promoting integration in the Dutch (LGBT) community. In addition, Cocktail is committed to a better living environment in the asylum seekers' centers by providing targeted information to employees and by offering psychosocial help to LGBT refugees by social workers.
Bringing newcomers and volunteers together is preceded by a careful procedure. After a discussion about the motivation and suitability of the volunteer, a training course takes place to familiarize him or her with the problems of LGBT refugees. During the project there are also intervision moments with the coordinator and a social worker offers guidance. For an optimal result Cocktail naturally strives for good cooperation with refugee and migrant organizations and other aid agencies.
The Cocktail project was opened on Friday 8 April with a panel discussion. Under the leadership of Willemijn de Koning (Den Haag FM), politicians and representatives of COC Netherlands discussed, among other things, the question: Whether or not there is separate reception for LGBT asylum seekers in the Haaglanden region? An animated discussion ensued, which ended with a nice drink.