Many LGBT advocates protested U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees from entering the country as well as immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries, an order some activists said could be “a death sentence for LGBTI people.” BuzzFeed reported on a group of “12 queer Iranians in hiding in Turkey,” some of whom have been awaiting US visas and “felt their dreams crushed as they heard the news.” They and others are now trapped in Turkey unless another country offers to settle them.
Trump’s order also signals a major shakeup in priorities for the US refugee program if it does resume. Under Obama, the US made a priority of resettling people who were persecuted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The order from Trump, however, makes a priority of resettling those claiming refugee status on the basis of “religious-based persecution.” This appears to prioritize Christians, allowing for the continued processing of religion-based refugee claims during the freeze on resettlements only in cases where “the religion of that individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, a Muslim from Iran might not qualify even if their claim is related to their faith.
The Guardian also reported on Iranian LGBT refugees that were stuck in “limbo” in Turkey thanks to Trump’s executive order. It notes that “gay Iranian exiles have been subjected to a string of violent hate attacks and murders in Turkey.”
Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron C. Morris praised the ruling by a federal judge that has for the moment halted enforcement of Donald Trump’s “sweeping, poorly constructed, and unconstitutional” executive order:
“Today, our community can breathe a bit easier knowing that judges across the country have agreed that there is a strong chance that they will find that the order is unlawful or unconstitutional. Allowing it to stay in place while it is reviewed would have caused irreparable harm to hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of LGBTQ and HIV-positive people from seeking safety in the United States.
United Nations: Independent expert on SOGI gets to work; activists await new U.S. role
The Independent Expert charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – a position that has survived multiple attempts by social conservatives to dismantle it since its creation by the Human Rights Council last year – held a public consultation in Geneva, Switzerland. on January 24 and 25. The UN’s Human Rights office has posted two videos of the deliberations, which were live-streamed. The Independent Expert is accepting submissions for his first report until Friday, February 10.