Safe House ‘La Villa’ - the LGBTIQ+ refugee shelter

La Villa
© Alexandra -


Since the influx of refugees into Germany in 2015, was clear that, among the refugees who have come to Germany fleeing to persecution, there were always homosexual, queer and transgender people, who, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can face extreme discrimination in their home countries. Unfortunately, among these groups they are often exposed to open discrimination and exclusion, even violent assaults, by fellow refugees in the German initial induction facilities and shared accommodation.

This situation was untenable. Therefore, the AHF (AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt) demanded early on that there must be a special protection status and corresponding shelters for these target groups in order to protect them from further discrimination and to adequately support integration into German society.

Already at the end of 2015, the AHF enabled the Rainbow Refugees, a voluntary group that works for the interests of LGBTIQ+ refugees, to use their space free of charge for a weekly meeting place for refugees in Switchboard. There, the needs of the refugees became even more visible through formal and informal dialogues and discussions. It became clear that an adequate offer in the form of a shelter urgently needed to be created and the idea for a shared accommodation for queer and transgender refugees was born.

The AHF created and presented the concept for a safe house at the beginning of 2017.  At the beginning of April 2018, thanks to the pragmatic and unconventional support of the Social Department of the City of Frankfurt, the project was implemented and the shared accommodation for 20 people was opened. Chosen by the residents themselves, the Safe House has been called La Villa since May 2019.

The project includes ten double and two single rooms, one of which serves as an emergency room. Most of the residents are gay young men, although transgender people have also found safe accommodation there. The refugees come from a wide range of countries and cultures and are often severely traumatised. The level of education and training of the residents varies greatly, as do their chances of receiving asylum in Germany.

The manageable size of the facility with 20 residents offers security and a trusting atmosphere, which also helps traumatised people to develop a feeling of safety and to slowly open up. In addition, the staff accompany the people in their coming out and offer psychosocial support, help with asylum matters, in addition to access to language courses, doctors and therapists, as well as with the search for flats and jobs or apprenticeships.

The meeting place ‘Rainbow Refugees and Friends’ continues to exist in the Switchboard and is still an important space of exchange and meeting point for all affected people. In addition, participants of this meeting place also volunteer at the Safe House and, in consultation with the full-time local team, offer various forms of assistance to the refugees.

Status as of April 2021