Archive for the 'Asylum' Category

World Refugee Day: #LGBTrefugeeswelcome

World Refugee Day

For World Refugee Day, we stand with the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety in distant lands. The current levels of refugee flight and displacement represent the highest levels in modern history. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports that 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home in recent years, including 22.5 million refugees, most of whom are under 18. In the time that it takes to read this article, conflict and persecution will drive 20 more people into forced displacement.

We know, too, that there are many LGBT refugees who are caught in this massive displacement. Many are fleeing the same conflict and instability that drives their neighbors from their homes, but LGBT refugees are at even greater risk of violence and persecution at every stage in their journey. They often end up in refugee camps or in neighboring countries that are deeply homophobic and transphobic, where they are likely to be violently persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Tragically, many LGBT refugees who make the excruciating decision to flee for their lives—choosing a dangerously uncertain future over certain death—find themselves even less safe in flight.

Many more refugees are fleeing targeted LGBT violence and persecution in their home countries, especially in the nearly eighty countries that criminalize same-sex relationships and non-conforming gender expression. This LGBT flight deprives emerging economies of dynamic young leaders who should be contributing to the social and economic development of their countries. More tragically, it often deprives the refugees themselves of the security and opportunity they need to build a stable future. And those who chose to stand and fight for their rights may still find the threat of prison and violence overwhelming, and they, too, may need to seek protection abroad one day. In the most violent environments, it may be impossible to survive as someone who is politically “out,” or someone who is proudly identifiable as gender non-conforming. The life expectancy of trans women in parts of Central America is only 35-years.

Today, when the world’s refugees most need our attention and sympathy, we see too many countries, the United States included, shutting borders, building walls and turning boats away from our shores. For those of us who fight for LGBT rights in the United States and abroad, we must recognize the LGBT face of the refugee emergency. This is an LGBT issue. The LGBT community in this country has both the resources and the sensitivities to do more – and those of us who survived years of social rejection, an AIDS pandemic and cycles of political vilification in this country should celebrate that remarkable human drive for authentic self-preservation, which has propelled so many of us to seek safety and a chosen community away from our own small towns or places of birth. Most LGBT refugees continue to live in fear even after fleeing their country of nationality. For them, resettlement to countries like the United States represents their only chance of living in safety. We should welcome LGBT refugees.

World Refugee Day

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Related Content: 

U.N. Information on World Refugee Day

US MAP

J Street’s World Refugee Day U. S. Event Map

White House Rally 

 

Michael Guest: Anti-immigrant rhetoric ‘painful to hear’

Repost from the Washington Blade

Former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest on Monday spoke forcefully against the anti-immigrant rhetoric that many Republican presidential candidates have used on the campaign trail.

“The America that we have heard painted during this presidential campaign is so, so different from the America that I used to represent as a diplomat,” said Guest during a Council for Global Equality reception that took place in Northwest D.C. “It’s so painful to hear the dialogue. It’s so impossible to understand how U.S. diplomats now describe and explain their country abroad because we know that America really is at its best when its doors are open, when it is a beacon of hope for people like the people who have just spoken about their ordeals, when it’s a harbinger of hope.”

Guest, who is the first openly gay ambassador confirmed by the U.S. Senate, represented then-President George W. Bush’s administration in Romania from 2001-2004. He currently works for the Center [sic] for Global Equality as a senior advisor.

Guest in his remarks did not specifically mention Republican frontrunner Donald Trump or any of his GOP challengers. The former ambassador did refer to “the hateful rhetoric that we’ve heard during this campaign so far” that includes “talk of building walls” and “xenophobia.”

“This is our country,” said Guest. “No presidential candidate, no presidency is going to take our values and our character away from us.” Continue Reading

Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart - The Council for Global EqualityOur country increasingly has come to terms with the need for fairness toward LGBT Americans – and few have questioned the premise that LGBT human rights abuse, like all human rights abuse, must be challenged.

But as we enter this election year, we’re disappointed to see how little discussion there’s been of human rights in either party’s presidential campaign. Fair treatment of human beings is, after all, common to many religious traditions, and it seems to us important that both major political parties regularly reaffirm the importance our country attaches to the protection of human rights for all.

Even more, we’re deeply concerned that the inflamed Republican primary rhetoric over immigration and refugees is harming our country’s image as a beacon of hope in today’s troubled world. It’s hardly a partisan comment to ask that both parties reaffirm our country’s proud tradition of welcoming those who flee persecution. Nor is it partisan to ask that those who call for the protection of Christian refugees from abuse and injustice show equal concern for the plight of LGBT refugees, who are among those most negatively impacted by wars across the Middle East.

We will continue to press the Obama Administration toward policies that assure the wellbeing of LGBT people worldwide – and we hope it will be eager to reach as broadly positive a legacy in this respect as possible. But we also want that legacy to carry over to a new Administration – one in which the new President, from whichever party, speaks to America’s strength as a nation of bright compassion, not as a nation of fear, and distrust, and hatred.

2016 will be crucial from both respects: an administration that can leave behind a powerful legacy of standing for fairness and equality, and an electoral cycle that should reaffirm those principles, rather than shrinking from their embrace. We ask that all of those who value liberty and equality, and who are committed to notions of fairness, make this a year of progress on both accounts.

Council for Global Equality Calls on U.S. Senators to Reject Legislation Abandoning Syrian Refugees

Senate-Refugee-Letter-Nov2015-1November 25 — Members of the Council for Global Equality today sent a letter to U.S. Senators calling on them to reject legislation, already passed in the House of Representatives as H.R. 4038, that would “bring the refugee resettlement system, which already moves at a very slow pace, to a grinding halt.”  The letter recognizes that LGBT refugees in Syria and Iraq are among the most vulnerable; that they have been hunted down and killed in gruesome public executions; and that they face additional discrimination and violence in flight within their own refugee communities.

The Council’s refugee experts conclude that “[t]hese vulnerable refugees deserve our protection, and we know they can be resettled safely using current security screening and vetting processes. Denying them protection, or limiting protection to those who are Christian only, would be devastating to those who most need our compassion, and it would provide a public relations victory of sorts to ISIS and others who seek to justify their terrorism using cultural and religious propaganda.”

Protecting the persecuted, and resettling vulnerable refugees, are strong U.S. commitments that must not be rejected.  Our nation is better than that.

White House Resources on Syrian Refugees: https://www.whitehouse.gov/campaign/resources-on-syrian-refugees

ORAM Congratulates EU Court of Justice for Landmark Decision on Credibility Assessment in LGBTI Asylum Claims

EU FLAGPress Statement from ORAM

The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued a landmark decision on assessing the credibility of sexual minority asylum seekers. In A, B and C vs. Staatssecretaris van Veiligheiden Justitie, the Court disallowed inappropriate practices in evaluating the claims of asylum applicants claiming persecution based on their sexual orientation. ORAM hopes the Court’s ruling will bring about more consistent and humane treatment of these asylum seekers.

The Court ruled that EU states credibility assessment methods must comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights — particularly the rights to human dignity and to private and family life.

The Court rejected several practices found in these cases: Intrusive questioning about an applicant’s sexual acts, use of explicit evidence like films documenting applicants’ intimate sexual conduct, and physical or medical tests purportedly revealing one’s sexual orientation.

Finally, the court held that a delay in asserting one’s LGBTI status does not necessarily indicate fraud, as allowances must be given to LGBTI applicants for the special kinds of difficulties they face.

ORAM will soon publish the first volume of its legal guidance series on refugee and asylum claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This meticulously researched and clearly written comparative work provides unparalleled guidance for adjudicators on credibility indicators used by major asylum countries in claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The volume draws on ORAM’s extraordinary expertise and field leadership in refugee protection training, as well as its research in international law, psychology and sociology. Together with ORAM’s other publications and materials, this work will be a significant contribution to the growing library of tools for LGBTI refugee adjudication and protection available to refugee professionals worldwide.

Related Reading:

Court of Justice of the European Union full judgement

EU Court: verification sexual orientation asylum seeker must not infringe fundamental rights (Intergroup on LGBT Rights)

HIAS’ report, “Invisible in the City,” examines protection gaps facing LGBTI refugees

Invisible in the City: Protection Gaps Facing Sexual Minority Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Urban Ecuador, Ghana, Israel and KenyaRemarks
Anne C. Richard
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Washington, DC
May 7, 2013

Thank you, Mark, and thank you to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for bringing us together today to celebrate this important research on LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. I’d also like to recognize Yiftach Millo, lead researcher and author of the study we are all here to officially launch, “Invisible in the City: Protection Gaps Experienced by Sexual Minority Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Urban Ecuador, Ghana, Israel, and Kenya.” I commend Mr. Millo and his team for their innovative work to help protect these refugees.

HIAS continues to be a leader in helping expose and address the barriers faced that confront lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex refugees. HIAS’s energy and vision is helping us all to find solutions to a real and persistent problem. Refugees and asylum seekers are already in a precarious position – they are at risk of exploitation, attack, and destitution. A refugee who is also part of a sexual minority is at even greater risk.

It has been over 20 years since Fidel Armanda Tobos Alfonso, a gay man from Cuba, was allowed to remain in the United States based on a judgement or understanding that he was at risk because of his sexual orientation. The Toboso-Alfonso decision paved the way for hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals as well as individuals with intersex conditions, to obtain refuge and asylum in the United States.

From the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has promoted the equal rights of LGBT people both at home and abroad. His Memorandum of December 2011 affirmed United States’s commitment to promoting the human rights of sexual minorities and specifically directed U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance agencies to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. Continue reading ‘HIAS’ report, “Invisible in the City,” examines protection gaps facing LGBTI refugees’

Protection Concerns and Vulnerabilities for LGBT Iraqis

Protection Concerns and Vulnerabilities for LGBT IraqisBlog Posting Written by: Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, July 2012

In March of 2012, U.S. and international media outlets reported a renewed wave of violence against LGBT individuals inside Iraq. Since that time, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) has conducted nearly 50 interviews (and counting) with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis who fear persecution and/or face serious protection concerns inside Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. About 45 interviewees identify as gay males and two are transgender persons, assigned female but identifying as male.

The Current Situation on the Ground for Gay Iraqi Men:

Protection concerns and vulnerabilities vary within the gay Iraqi community depending on whether the man is able to, or chooses to, hide any outward manifestation of his sexual orientation. Those that suppress any outward manifestation of their sexuality do not face immediate physical danger. Most are able to maintain jobs and leave their homes without facing serious protection concerns, but cite the psychological aspects of hiding a huge part of their identity as unbearable, and suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Additionally, all fear being “outed” and discovered by their families who may become suspicious of their sexual orientation because the men have never been married, or have been married but are now divorced.

Those whose sexual orientation is either known to their families or the general public face severe outward, physical harm, in addition to severe psychological trauma. A small number of the men interviewed were put under house arrest by family members after their sexual identity became known. This often includes severe beatings and intense pressure to marry in order to cover up any scandal. Other men were beaten by family members, mostly fathers and brothers, but then immediately kicked out of their homes with nowhere to go. This forced them to live house-to-house, depending on sympathetic family members or friends. Even those with relatively safe housing do not leave their homes, unless it is absolutely necessary, out of fear of being harassed, found by family members wanting to harm them or picked up by police or security forces. A large number of men have been subjected to severe sexual violence, including rape, from family members, police, security forces, and members of the larger community. Many also reported physical violence at the hands of these perpetrators, and, to a lesser extent, militant groups like Jeash Al-Mahdi or Al-Haqq. Like those who have not been “outed,” a disturbing number of gay men, with whom IRAP spoke, wished they were dead, could change their sexual orientation or be “normal.” Continue reading ‘Protection Concerns and Vulnerabilities for LGBT Iraqis’


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