Many LGBTQIA aid workers choose to remain invisible for fear of being discriminated against or hindering their employment prospects. Others do not dare disclose their sexual orientation in countries where homosexuality is criminalised and/or socially condemned as they may face verbal abuse, physical threats or even attacks, rejection and stigmatisation. Hiding one’s identity can lead to isolation and trigger mental health issues. Once they have a partner or a family the situation becomes even more challenging since most NGOs and international organisations do not have supportive policies to deploy same-sex couples and families. Thus, many LGBTQIA aid workers had to choose between having a family or pursuing their careers ambitions.
The aim of “The GAYd Worker” blog is twofold. First, it aims to provide a space for aid workers to share their experiences of discrimination and self-censorship, as well as solidarity and support. Support for LGBTQIA individuals and their families while they are deployed abroad is minimal, with only a handful of websites and employee support groups existing out there. Peer support can also be hard to come by since most of us keep usually quiet about our sexual orientation while “in the field”. Second, this blog wants to raise awareness about the rights of LGBTQIA staff and spark a debate about what can be done to reshape current policies and practices.
We will not use our real names or those of the people we will write about since, sadly, this could compromise our current job or our chances to be employed in the future. That’s kind of the point of this blog, but we are not there yet.