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Brussels to open new refuges for domestic violence victims and young LGBTQI people

Secretary of state responsible for both Equality of Opportunity and Housing Nawal Ben Hamou. (BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE)
10:11 11/02/2021

The Brussels regional government intends to open two new refuges in the capital - one for women who are victims of domestic violence and one for young LGBTQI people, who often have a very difficult time at home. The need for new shelters has long exceeded the current reception capacity.

Secretary of state responsible for both equality of opportunity and housing, Nawal Ben Hamou, announced her plan for the new refuges in a meeting with the parliamentary equal opportunities committee on Wednesday in response to a question from parliamentarian Nicole Nketo Bomele about the situation of transgender people in homeless shelters.

"The second European survey on the situation of LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) people and the Crime Survey conducted here in Brussels clearly shows the very precarious situation of transgender people when it comes to violence and discrimination, and also the barriers to reporting it to the police," the secretary of state said. "It goes without saying that the creation of a reception centre today is more than useful in the Brussels region."

Ben Hamou included the budget needed for the two refuges in the housing emergency plan, which was approved in December. The plan includes €5 million to buy or build the shelters.

There had long been demand for a second LGBT refuge. Even before the corona pandemic, the first safe house was flooded with applications, and it sought additional resources. There is also a glaring lack of reception capacity for women seeking refuge from abusive partners. During the first period of lockdown, a Brussels hotel was even called in to deal with the influx of domestic violence victims.

Written by Nick Amies