Developing the UK's first safe-house for LGBTI refugees

Weil, Gotshal & Manges with Micro Rainbow International


Weil London aided Micro Rainbow International (MRI) in a series of matters that has resulted in the successful opening of the first safe house for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K.

MRI is a social enterprise that tackles poverty and discrimination of LGBTI refugees through enterprise, training and housing. Each year, 1,300 people seek asylum in the U.K. on the grounds of fear of persecution in their home country because of their sexuality, gender identity or intersex status. A lack of safe and affordable housing means that more than 90% of this demographic falls below the poverty line within six months of arriving in the U.K., further exacerbating their feelings of isolation and exclusion.

Lawyers from the tax, real estate and banking groups spent more than 260 hours in assisting MRI in overcoming a series of legal and economic barriers by developing an innovative financial model. Our team advised on matters such as securing HMRC advanced assurance for Social Investment Tax Relief to incentivize social impact investors; drafting and negotiating documents related to raising £420,000 in social investment through individual social investors to open the first two properties; and successfully negotiating a commercial contract with the housing contractor of the U.K. Government’s Home Office to secure referrals of LGBTI asylum seekers that will create a regular income stream.

There are now two properties open, with 10 additional properties planned for 2018. Residents have access not only to safe and affordable housing but also to MRI’s other services such as enterprise and employment skills, training, language lessons, music therapy and counseling.

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