LGBT World Beside organized “Spelletjesdag” events on January 29 and March 4. About 40 asylum seekers and refugees from various post-Soviet countries participated in each of these two events. They spent time together playing board games such as Mafia or Weerwolven, Uno, and Rummukub at the Goethe-Institut in Amsterdam.
Due to the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Kremlin’s homophobic policies and repressions, the number of Russian LGBT+ people applying for asylum in the Netherlands has dramatically increased over the last year. We are pleased that “Spelletjesdag” events are gaining popularity among Russian-speaking LGBT+ people, with both new and returning participants at each event.
Most of the participants have recently arrived in the Netherlands, while others have lived there for years. The “Spelletjesdag” events provide a platform for new LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees to interact with Russian-speaking LGBT+ Dutch citizens and learn about Dutch society, institutions, and traditions.
During the March 4 “Spelletjesdag,” we also commemorated Khina Zakharova, a 21-year-old Russian transgender woman who recently committed suicide. She participated in the January 29 (2023) “Spelletjesdag” and in the December 17 (2022) “Kersborel” event. Her case highlights the difficult situation faced by Russian-speaking LGBT+ people today and the importance of social interaction for them during these trying times.
The asylum procedure in the Netherlands currently takes quite a long time, usually ranging from 1 to 2 years. Consequently, asylum applicants typically reside in refugee centres (AZC) for several years. Therefore, events such as ‘Spelletjesdag’ help LGBT+ refugees during difficult times in their lives.
We are grateful to the Goethe-Institut for providing us with their amazing space, and we extend special thanks to Wolfgang Schreiber, who helped us organize these events and accompanied us during them. We plan to continue organizing “Spelletjesdag” events regularly.