Not just gays, but lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals….
One of the hottest controversies on-going right now in the refugee business is the issue of saving LGBT people from persecution around the world by bringing them to the US as refugees. Indeed the subject was brought up at the May 1 State Department scoping meeting on refugee goals for fy2013. The subject was the centerpiece of the testimony that day by Duncan Breen of Human Rights First (oops, I see it’s LGBTI, I is for intersex).
Here is a lengthy story in the Advocate summarizing the situation and calling for the Obama Administration to not just use words but do something fast for LGBT people who are mostly being persecuted in Islamic countries. LOL! They didn’t say ‘Islamic’ countries, in fact they never use the words “Islam” or “Muslims” to describe the abusers of gay people.
Nearly six months ago, the White House unveiled a global blueprint for promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT individuals, countless numbers of whom live in countries where they are imprisoned, blackmailed, and in places like Iraq, sometimes crushed to death with cement blocks.
The State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Report, released last week, provides a grim, if incomplete, catalog of such atrocities.
Combating such physical and political violence is central to American foreign policy, as President Obama articulated in a December 6 memorandum and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed in her seminal “gay rights are human rights” speech at the Palais des Nations in Geneva that same day. The presidential memo reflected both the growing consciousness on the issue and the concrete work already being done by the Obama administration. It also laid out ambitious objectives for one of the global LGBT rights movement’s most vexing problems: how to aid those seeking to escape violence and persecution in virulently antigay climates.
“In order to improve protection for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBT refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum,” President Obama wrote, further instructing that federal agencies must have “the ability to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.” Homeland Security, the State Department, the Defense Department, and other agencies engaged abroad have a deadline of next week to report on what progress has been made regarding the initiatives outlined in the memo.
But the goal of identifying and ultimately resettling at-risk LGBT individuals in the United States is constrained by a complex bureaucratic process. Security and medical checks involve multiple agencies and often delay processing, which can take a year or much longer — particularly in regions such as East Africa and the Middle East, where the problem of antigay violence is, ironically, most acute.
Why the word “ironically?” Does the writer not understand that it is the fundamentalist Islamic culture in those regions of the world that is so virulently anti-gay?
Meeting next week to discuss a system for identifying and expediting the process. I’m wondering how they can determine if someone in those cultures, where lying is a way of life, can sort out who is, and who isn’t telling the truth about their sexual orientation and whether they are being persecuted because of it. I wonder too, if American Muslim groups (CAIR etc) are quietly opposed to bringing more LGBT people to the US?
Next week refugee groups are meeting with State Department officials to discuss expedited resettlement (a State Department spokeswoman declined to confirm the meeting, though she explained, “We frequently meet with our partners in the resettlement community and welcome the exchange of views on how we can improve our systems and processes”). For the administration to achieve its promises to LGBT refugees in harm’s way, a formalized system that is both transparent and concrete is desperately needed, advocates said.
The Migration Policy Institute has an article about the history of asylum claims based on sexual orientation that is worth reading.