A word about words

The power of language to shape our perceptions of other people is immense. Precise use of terms can have a significant impact on demystifying many of the misperceptions associated with marginalised and minority groups and identities. However, the vocabulary continues to evolve and there is not universal agreement about the definitions of many terms. Nonetheless, here are some working definitions and examples of frequently used (and misused) terms.

Allies: People who work together for equality, especially if you’re not a member of the group facing inequality.

Asylum: The grant, by a State, of protection on its territory to persons from another State who are fleeing persecution or serious danger. Asylum encompasses a variety of elements including permission to remain on the territory of the asylum country, and humane standards of treatment.

Asylum-Seeker: An asylum-seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualised procedures, an asylum-seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she has submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylumseeker.

Bisexual: Someone who is attracted to women and men.

Cisgender/Cis is a term that refers to people whose gender identity is aligned with the gender they were assigned at birth; in other words, people who are not trans.

Coming out: Understanding yourself, and telling other people that you are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and /or Transgender.

Direct Provision: Government accommodation for asylum seekers.

Dublin II Regulation: Is a European Union (EU) law that determines the EU Member State responsible to examine an application for asylum seekers seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention and the EU Qualification Directive, within the European Union.

Gay: Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender.

Gender identity: An individual’s internal understanding of themselves as female, male, transgender – and other identities.

Gender expression: How people show their gender, through their dress, hair, voice, mannerisms, etc.

Heterosexual / Straight: Someone who is attracted to people of another gender.

Heterosexism: Assuming everyone is straight or that heterosexuality is superior to other sexual orientations.

Homo/Bi/Trans phobia: Prejudice or discrimination towards LGBT+ people

Homophobic bullying: Bullying based on prejudice or discrimination towards LGBT+ people.

International Protection: The actions by the international community on the basis of international law, aimed at protecting the fundamental rights of a specific category of persons outside their countries of origin, who lack the national protection of their own countries.

Intersex:  About 1% of children are born with chromosomes, hormones, genitalia and/or other sex characteristics that are not exclusively male or female as defined by the medical establishment in our society.

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women.

LGBT/LGBTQ: Umbrella term often used for Lesbian, Gay, Bi,Trans and Queer/Questioning people.The LGBTQ acronym does not encompass everybody and different organisations may use fewer or more letters, for example, an ‘I’ to indicate Intersex people.

Non-binary identity means a gender identity that falls outside of the binaries of male or female.

Pride: The annual celebration of LGBT+ communities held around the world.

Pronouns are how you refer to somebody in the third person. As well as ‘he’ and ‘she’, there is also the singular form of ‘they’, which is sometimes used by a person who feels that the binary choices do not fit their identity. The pronouns used by trans and gender non-conforming people can vary widely beyond these, and it is better to ask somebody’s pronouns instead of assuming them.

Queer: Individuals who experience fluidity in their experience of sexuality or gender and therefore may not identify strictly as LGB or T. The term ‘Queer’ can also include those who do not identify as either gender e.g. genderqueer.

The questioning of one’s gender identity or sexual orientation is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, and/or concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons.

Rainbow: The rainbow has represented LGBT people since 1978. It symbolises diversity and inclusion within LGBT communities and LGBT Pride. The LGBT Rainbow flag includes usually 6 colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Reception Centre: A location with facilities for receiving, processing and attending to the immediate needs of refugees or asylum-seekers as they arrive in a country of asylum .

Refugee: A person who meets the eligibility criteria under the applicable refugee definition, as provided for in international or regional refugee instruments, under UNHCR’s mandate, and/or in national legislation.

Refugee Status Determination (RSD): Legal and administrative procedures undertaken by States and/or UNHCR to determine whether an individual should be recognised as a refugee in accordance with national and international law.

Sexual orientation: The attraction we feel towards people of a particular gender(s).

Subsidiary Protection: A person who does not qualify as a refugee but in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown that the person, if returned to his or her country of origin, or country of former residence, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm.

Transgender or Trans: Someone whose gender identity differs from the one they were assigned at birth. They may identify as male or female, or maybe neither label fits them. Trans Man; Trans Woman are just some of the labels trans people may identify with.

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