Queer Base mit Ute Bock Preis für Zivilcourage ausgezeichnet

Together with the initiative “IG24” for the self-organized representation of the interests of 24-hour caregivers, the “Queer Base” was awarded for the extraordinary commitment to the rights of refugee lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans and inter persons on May 22, 2023 in the Vienna City Hall. We would like to thank SOS Mitmensch and Mavie Hörbiger and Conchita for the wonderful celebration!

In her moving laudation, Mavie Hörbiger made clear why LGBTIQ persons in Austria need protection from persecution. It is individual fates that make clear the structural persecution due to sexual orientation and gender identity and shows that here is a community that is still not safe in far too many countries.

Marty Huber and Faris Cuchi gave the acceptance speech on behalf of the numerous Queer Base community present:

Thank you Mavie Hörbiger and thank you Conchita for the laudation and award ceremony.
Thank you dear SOS Mitmensch for the Ute Bock Award for Civil Courage 2023.

We are overjoyed to find ourselves as lovers in solidarity in contexts that understand what it means to find a safe, even happy life in freedom and equality without stigma and shame. This context, this togetherness that we have been working on for some time now, insists on the human right to be able to have this life in which I can love who I want and be who I am. When we started to organize more and more 8 years ago, these were people with exactly this longing, some of us born here, others migrated, others fled under the most difficult conditions. We quickly realized that Austria is not a safe country for LGBTIQ refugees, many had to leave the asylum shelters for fear of attacks and slid into homelessness. Not for nothing, some of them came to the Türkis Rosa Lila Villa, which has been established for over 40 years precisely in the awareness of living differently together and no longer wanting to hide.

I am standing here for the second time: the first time I had the pleasure to receive the Ute Bock Award for Civil Courage with the collective “Refugee Convoy”, which in the fall of 2015 (the year that should not be repeated) decided to meet the refugees, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who were held up in Hungary, for a part of their way. While this exercise in civil courage lasted only a few days, the permanence with which the Queer Base sprinkles glitter into the hardened structures of Austrian asylum policy now extends over 8 years. A lot has happened since then, we negotiated with the FSW to include queer refugees in Vienna’s basic care for refugees, although Vienna exceeds the distribution quota, together with Diakonie Lares we created the first safe LGBTIQ shared flats in Vienna, then another 80 places with the cooperation partners tralalobe, Arbeitersamariterbund and Volkshilfe. Since summer 2016, Queer Base has been funded by the FSW, thank you also for that.

It was clear to us that not only safe accommodations are needed, but also a powerful legal team that has worked for a long time without pay.

Knowing all too well the impact of hurtful language, we built a queer interpreter team, many of whom were refugees themselves.

Together with UNHCR we organized the first trainings for BVwG judges and now we train social workers, legal advisors, therapists from Hemayat, and interpreters on quality standards in the field of LGBTIQ on the run.

This work has paid off, about 82% of Queer Base refugees have completed their asylum procedure positively, of which about 80% have received a convention passport. An incredible 63% of these have completed their procedure in the first instance. Early detection and appropriate supported procedures not only save unnecessary robbery of life time, but save resources on all corners.

But we would be nothing without the community, the Queer Refugees themselves, who – despite having gone through many hells – with their resilience and zest for life teach us a lesson in civil courage every day. We would be nothing without the aforementioned legal nerds, our legal counselors, social counselors, interpreters, Queer Base buddies, and the many donors who support our work.

To love in solidarity is not only to provide shelter seekers with the basic necessities, but also to understand in the struggles what kind of world we should dream of and what we should fight for. No matter how far or how close the fault lines run, be it in Uganda where the government plans to introduce the death penalty for LGBTIQ, be it pushbacks in the Mediterranean, be it in Slovakia that wants to do the same to Hungary and ban gender transition, or be it right-wing extremists, and arch-conservatives who want to stand in front of the Villa to prevent a children’s book reading by a drag queen. The answer is simple: not with us!

Faris Cuchi:

As a former Queer Base client, a teammate from 2019 to 2021, and a member, Queer Base holds a special and significant place in my heart, in my work of activism that manifests in multifaceted ways. The work Queer Base (WE) does welcomes queer folx with an open arm that is intentionally filled with softness, tenderness, kindness, and love, such work day in and day out try, the very best with limited resources, to center queer folx who is from multiple background and culture with our wholeness. The importance of such work is critical in starting the process of undoing the pain of being unrooted from a place once you called home in a very complicated way. Queer Base is not only queer refugee welcoming space, it is also a place where queer refugee restart, reimagine and connect to the professional aspect of our life, and I am a living and breathing testimony of such reality and the current team constitution as well. The work is informed by the lived experience of these bodies that developed technology and knowledge that automatically sees queer folx seeking Austria as a refuge place and whether the general public sees it or not because of such work, first there are more than 800 queer folx and still counting calling Austria home and infusing a unique and beautiful multifacetedness and colorfulness to the culture of humanity here in Austria. Thank you to the beautiful teams, and many faucets who invest not only in professional but also emotional work in Queer Qase. Thank you SOS Mitmensch Ute Bock Prize for Civil Courage 2023, which sees and recognizes such work.

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)