LGBT refugees commonly experience consistent, often violent harassment from local communities and refugee populations in their countries of transit. The few who dare to go to the authorities often find that police ignore their complaints. Struggles with employment, discrimination, violence, adequate housing, and health care plague them throughout their quest for freedom and safety.
As a result, the vast majority of LGBT people who are forced to flee their home countries try to conceal their identity from others, including the agencies responsible for protecting them.
UNHCR Guidelines for International Protection
Persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation is included in the Guidelines on International Protection issued by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. The agency issues guidelines to provide legal interpretative guidance for governments, legal practitioners, decision-makers and the judiciary, as well as UNHCR staff carrying out refugee status determination in the field.
Under Gender-Related Persecution, the Guidelines on International Protection state:
"Persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation
16. Refugee claims based on differing sexual orientation contain a gender element. A claimant’s sexuality or sexual practices may be relevant to a refugee claim where he or she has been subject to persecutory (including discriminatory) action on account of his or her sexuality or sexual practices. In many such cases, the claimant has refused to adhere to socially or culturally defined roles or expectations of behaviour attributed to his or her sex. The most common claims involve homosexuals, transsexuals or transvestites, who have faced extreme public hostility, violence, abuse, or severe or cumulative discrimination.
17. Where homosexuality is illegal in a particular society, the imposition of severe criminal penalties for homosexual conduct could amount to persecution, just as it would for refusing to wear the veil by women in some societies. Even where homosexual practices are not criminalised, a claimant could still establish a valid claim where the State condones or tolerates discriminatory practices or harm perpetrated against him or her, or where the State is unable to protect effectively the claimant against such harm."
ORAM, the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration has a very extensive portal called the LGBTI Refugee Project Portal. The portal contains projects and approaches that enhance the protection of LGBTI forced migrants in the areas of refugee status determination, policy development and research, practical protection measures, durable solutions, and staff sensitization and development. The projects in the portal are drawn from many countries, and bring forward ideas and practices relevant to stakeholders across sectors and borders. Go to the portal here: http://portal.oraminternational.org/
Find an exhaustive collection of relevant resources on refugees & asylum under "Resources" here.