For LGBT employees, working overseas can be a lonely, frustrating and dangerous experience

Academics Miriam Moeller, Jane Maley, and Ruth McPhail look at the experience of workers employed overseas.

As the number of workers taking international assignments increases, companies have more responsibility to look after their LGBTI employees who face persecution while on assignment.

Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are becoming some of the most challenging expatriate assignment destinations for multinational firms, according to relocation business BGRS. This is in part because some of these countries advocate the death penalty for homosexuality. Other popular assignment destinations include Brazil, India, China, Mexico and Turkey, and these countries exhibit less sensitivity to homosexuality.

International assignments among multinational corporations have increased by 25% since 2000 and the number is expected to reach more than 50% growth through 2020.

The opportunity for LGBTI expatriates and their respective families to be part of an intra-company transfer is statistically likely. Worldwide, the LGBTI population is estimated to be between 1-in-10 and 1-in-20 of the adult population, and over 200 million people worldwide live and work in a country other than their country of origin.

LGBTI employees relocating for a foreign assignment are likely to experience additional hardships compared to the typical expatriate. It’s not uncommon for a destination country to refuse spousal visas if same-sex marriage is not legal in that country.

Likewise, access to healthcare and other benefits can be restricted for those relocating as a same-sex couple. In their study about LGBTI expatriates in dangerous locations, Ruth McPhail and Yvonne McNulty highlighted an interview with one LGBTI expatriate who experienced difficulty in gaining a spousal visa in Indonesia:

I knew my wife would never get a spousal visa in Indonesia; my experience had prepared me for that. So instead I wanted to be guaranteed two things: firstly that my wife could come and stay at least 90 days at a time with multiple entry, and second that if there was a medical evacuation or civil strife situation that we would be evacuated as a family. These two matters were more important to me than what type of visa we were allocated.

On a daily basis, a lack of access to or interaction with other LGBTI families may be common among LGBTI expatriates, and “fitting in” is not always guaranteed. From a career perspective, LGBTI people may face a difficult workplace climate, a perceived lack of career opportunities or status at work.

Comments (0)

MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.

Loading Comments