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Empowering LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Argentina

DHD's Groundbreaking Initiative in Argentina

Empowering LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers in ... Empowering LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers in ...

In addition to providing emergency travel support to individuals fleeing persecution, Rainbow Railroad provides safety to LGBTQI+ people worldwide with five additional programs. Through Partnership Development, Rainbow Railroad offers direct capacity building and livelihood support to human rights defenders, organizations, and collectives in countries where people are displaced.  One of the partner organizations Rainbow Railroad supports is Derechos Humanos y Diversidad Asociacion Civil (DHD), which provides comprehensive services to LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers in Argentina.

Addressing a Crucial Gap in Argentina

Despite the efforts of individual LGBTQI+ activists collaborating with social justice organizations, Argentina faced a notable absence of organizations dedicated to supporting the integration of LGBTQI+ displaced individuals.  In response to this gap, Derechos Humanos y Diversidad Asociacion Civil (DHD) was formed in 2022 to unite diverse Argentine LGBTQI+ activists with experience working with displaced individuals and provide a platform for collective action and representation. In February 2023, with support from Rainbow Railroad and the Buenos Aires city government, DHD proudly launched The Service Center for LGBTQI+ Asylum Seekers and Refugees, marking a historic milestone as the first center of its kind in Argentina. Following its initial months of operation, the Center received additional support from the Netherlands Embassy in Argentina and other international donors to enhance its capacity.



Comprehensive Support Services for LGBTQI+ Refugees in Argentina

The Service Center offers a comprehensive array of support services tailored to promoting the integration and well-being of LGBTQI+ refugees in Argentina. From general orientation and immigration advice to guidance on healthcare access and psychological support, the center provides a safe and inclusive space for the LGBTQI+ community. This holistic approach underscores DHD’s commitment to addressing the diverse needs of individuals seeking refuge.

Mariano Ruiz, president and founder of DHD, has been an ongoing collaborator and partner of  Rainbow Railroad since 2017. This partnership began with the temporary relocation of a group of gay and bisexual men from Chechnya who were victims of state-sponsored persecution. Over time, it evolved into an ongoing international advocacy effort for Emergency Travel to relocate LGBTQI+ individuals facing persecution to Argentina. Rainbow Railroad’s support has extended beyond advocacy, actively engaging in local initiatives alongside government representatives and UNHCR, further enhancing DHD’s capacity to support displaced individuals within the LGBTQI+ community.

The partnership with Rainbow Railroad has had a profound and multifaceted impact on DHD and the communities they serve. Beyond providing direct assistance to those in need, the partnership has elevated DHD’s profile, creating opportunities for other types of collaborations and financial support.



As the head of the Service Center, Mariano shares the challenges and rewards of his day-to-day work. Despite witnessing the hardships faced by individuals in the LGBTQI+ community due to discrimination, persecution, and displacement, Mariano’s dedication to driving positive change motivates him:

“The work is gratifying. Seeing the positive impact we can make in the lives of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and refugees brings a sense of fulfillment. Providing a safe and supportive environment where individuals can rebuild their lives, live free from hate and discrimination, and reconnect with their identity is a powerful experience.”


Committing to Systemic Change

Looking ahead, Mariano envisions a future where governments recognize migration as a fundamental human right, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. DHD aspires to establish a drop-in service center offering comprehensive support and plans to launch LGBTQI+ community sponsorship in Argentina. These aspirations align with the DHD’s commitment to fostering dignity, respect, and equal opportunities for everyone.

DHD is committed to systemic change, queering the system by advocating for policy changes, fostering an inclusive environment, and actively dismantling barriers that hinder the full realization of everyone’s human rights. DHD actively disrupts norms, questions oppressive practices, and advocates for a more inclusive and equitable society. Mariano offers words of compassion and wisdom to LGBTQI+ individuals facing difficulties.

Seek out spaces and connections that celebrate diversity and inclusion. You deserve love, respect, and equal opportunities. Embrace your resilience, and don’t hesitate to share your story if you feel comfortable doing so. It is through our stories that we inspire change and build understanding. Progress is being made, and allies and advocates are working towards a more inclusive world. You have the right to live free from discrimination and prejudice. Hold onto your dreams and know that your existence is a testament to courage and authenticity.

Mariano calls on the Government of Argentina to further their commitment to the LGBTQI+ community:

 “I urge you to continue your commitment to human rights, particularly those of the LGBTQI+ community. Your past efforts in advancing equality have been commendable, and I encourage you to build on this foundation.Invest in education and awareness programs that promote inclusivity and understanding. By fostering a culture of acceptance, you contribute to a society where diversity is celebrated, and LGBTQI+ individuals can live authentically without fear of stigma. Be a vocal advocate on the international stage for LGBTQI+ rights. Argentina has the opportunity to set an example and influence positive change globally. Advocate for LGBTQI+ inclusion in diplomatic discussions.”