Answers to common questions regarding support agencies, asylum in the Netherlands, and what COC can do for you.
Can COC provide legal aid to asylum seekers?
Unfortunately, COC does not assist individual asylum seekers in their asylum applications. We try to influence policy makers to make the asylum policy better for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers, but we do not have asylum lawyers who can represent you.
For legal assistance, you can contact the Dutch Council for Refugees:
Phone: +31 20 346 72 00 (from outside of the Netherlands) or 020 346 72 00 (from within the Netherlands).
Please email us for more information on other organizations for legal assistance.
Please note that neither COC nor the Council for Refugees can advise you on how to escape from your country. You will have to arrange your own travel.
Where can I find information on LGBT issues in my home country?
There are several trusted international organizations that can provide reports and summaries about LGBT rights in various countries, as well as international law.
1) The International Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Trans and Intersex Association’s website allows you to search by country: http://ilga.org/ilga/en/search
2) Human Rights Watch has information about different countries that you can search. Go to the bottom of the homepage to “Browse by Region”: http://www.hrw.org
3) Amnesty International allows you to search for human rights information by both country and topic on the right side of their homepage: http://amnesty.org
4) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission provides information by country: http://iglhrc.org/content/information-country
Can I marry or cohabitate with my LGBT partner in the Netherlands? If I am married or cohabitating with a partner who has legal residence, do I have the right to work?
For the most detailed and up-to-date information on these topics in the Netherlands, you can contact “Het Juridisch Loket” or the Dutch Immigration Authorities.
1) Het Juridisch Loket provides free or very inexpensive legal advice.
Phone: +31 30 232 64 10 (from outside of the Netherlands) or on 0900 8020 (from within the Netherlands). The price is 20 cents per minute.
Location: They have several offices you can visit, and you can search them by location on their website. (“Contact”> “Visit a Branch”)
2) Dutch Immigration Authorities (IND)
Phone: +31 20 8893045 (if you are calling outside of the Netherlands) or 0900 1234561 (from within the Netherlands).
What should I do if I face physical or verbal abuse, or discrimination in one of the Reception Centers?
If you face abuse or discrimination in a reception center, you should immediately let your COA contact person know what you have experienced. COA aims to support LGBT asylum seekers and to offer a safe environment of LGBT people, so always let your contact person know when you do not feel save.
COC monitors incidents of abuse and discrimination in the centers, and we would appreciate it if you could inform us of your situation as well. Also, if you cannot talk to COA staff, please feel free to contact us. You can do so by clicking on the ‘contact’ button on the top-right of this page.
I’m having medical or psychological problems. Where can I get help?
If you are living in a reception center, you should contact the medical department within your center (GCA). They can provide medical and psychological help. For emergencies outside of normal business hours, you can call 088 112 1122. You should also contact your COA contact person.
If you are living outside of a reception center, please contact your doctor (huisart) or the Association of Community Health Services Netherlands (GGD). The GGD helps all people residing in the Netherlands with preventative healthcare and medical advice. The website below allows you to search for your local GGD by location.
Please note: Undocumented migrants are entitled to care that is “medically necessary.” Many people do not get the medical help they need because they are afraid they will have to pay a large medical bill, but under the Dutch system, if you cannot afford to pay the bill, you will not have to (as a result of Article 122a of the Dutch Health Insurance Act).
I am no longer able to stay at a refugee center (AZC) and I am having trouble finding housing. Where can I go?
Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a place to stay at the moment, and most places offering shelter for refugees are already full. However, there are a few places you can try to contact:
1) The Salvation Army is a Christian organization that is LGBT-friendly.
2) The LOS foundation helps undocumented migrants and their children.
They also provide a helpful list of organizations for emergency shelter: