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InReach, formerly AsylumConnect: providing legal aid and support to LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution


The Problem
In 80+ countries it remains illegal or unsafe to live openly as an LGBTQ+ person. As a result, thousands are forced to flee their countries every year. The challenge for many is that discrimination continues even in "safe" havens. LGBTQ+ asylum seekers struggle to access legitimate local services and support, and face increased risk of detention and homelessness when accessing critical social services. Out of options, many are forced to give up on their legal claim and face deportation.

The Approach
To fill this information gap, InReach, formerly AsylumConnect, has created the world's first web and mobile platform designed to facilitate the safe navigation of LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution. LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented immigrants use InReach's free resources to match with independently verified legal, medical, mental health, and social service providers. InReach is currently available in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. InReach offers a translated international resource page for those who are outside of North America or still in transit. The platform lists 6,000+ services vetted by trained volunteers to be welcoming to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers fleeing persecution.

InReach aims to produce systemic change through enhancing the work of existing legal service providers. Nonprofit lawyers, attorneys, and law students working pro-bono efficiently gather verified non-legal service referrals for LGBTQ+ clients. Legal nonprofits advertise their services directly to potential clients.

The Junior Board Program was launched in the United States in 2020. The goal is to mobilize young professionals across the United States to serve as ambassadors in their communities for AsylumConnect.

The Impact

  • 140,000+ matches between LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution and independently verified affirming legal, medical, mental health and social service providers since its launch in 2016.
  • Importance of the existence of this type of database and centralized information recognized by lawyers and paralegals.
  • Trusted by LGBTQ+ resource seekers due to its unique emphasis on confidentiality and user safety, and LGBTQ+ affirming care.

The Future
InReach plans on rebranding as the go-to platform for all LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution, introducing new non-English translation, a resource navigation helpline, and direct referral support. The organization is currently focused on expansion across North America, with plans to explore replicating its free platform in European countries in the future. InReach also plans to convert its Junior Board Program to in-person local chapters to maximize membership and revenue.