Katie Sgarro's AsylumConnect Helps LGBTQ Asylum Seekers Access Safe Services

14.8.2019

“LGBTQ asylum seekers today are facing an extremely hostile administration at the intersection of LGBTQ rights and immigration. From my perspective as a non asylum seeker, we have responsibility to make sure all members of the LGBTQ community have the safety to live authentically.”

, she met Sy. Sy was a fellow student, and a gay man who had sought asylum in the

At the time, Sgarro had yet to embrace her own LGBTQ identity. When she heard Sy’s story, she decided it was time to be true to herself and act. At 22, she came out, and along with Sy, cofounded AsylumConnect, a website and app that helps LGBTQ asylum seekers find safe services – from shelter, to

This was 2014, when Sgarro and Sy were still seniors at Penn. They knew nothing about running their own organization and did not have strong tech backgrounds.

“LGBTQ asylum seekers today are facing an extremely hostile administration at the intersection of LGBTQ rights and immigration. From my perspective as a non asylum seeker, we have a responsibility to make sure all members of the LGBTQ community have the safety to live authentically.”

to housing, becomes more dangerous and more complicated. “There is this unique struggle to access services that are not only immigrant friendly, but also LGBTQ affirming,” Sgarro says. “And that’s really the mission we have today.”

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