For many gay and lesbian young people in France, Le Refuge is a lifesaver — literally. Since 2003, the organization has helped hundreds of desperate youths, most of them from Muslim families, who have been rejected by their families and forced onto the streets. But the charity is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking assistance. The organization, France’s only refuge for gay and transsexual youth who are abandoned by their families, offers 22 rooms to desperate young people like Amine. For up to six months, 18- to 25-year-olds can live in one of Le Refuge’s homes in Paris, Lyon and Marseille, complete with educational, medical and psychological support. They can finish their schooling, search for jobs and start to build a new life.
Since its founding in 2003, Le Refuge has cared for about 200 young people, including 80 in the last year alone, says Nicolas Noguier, 33, who is the organization’s founder. About 70 percent of the people living there are young men. Most come from Muslim families.