Tuesday, 1 July 2008

LGBT asylum briefs

Arsham Parsi, Executive Director of the Iranian Queer Organization, pictured with Patrick Carney, the force behind the Friends of the Pink Triangle, at it's launch (amid hazy smoky conditions). The Pink Triangle sits atop Twin Peaks, San Francisco during Pride.

‘Discrete’ Gays Safe in Iran: Really Ms. Smith?
UKGayNews op-ed republished in gaywired.com.

Brown’s moral compass spins unpredictably
Editorial in the Scottish Herald

In a big, bad world, out and proud Persians may not be your top priority. But stop and think about this for a moment. In our name, ministers are deporting people to face imprisonment and even death for their sexuality, and the best we can offer is some helpful advice to be "discreet". Are we saying the same of those whose ethnicity, political beliefs, faith or creed requires similar discretion? You may be Jewish, Kurdish, Sunni, Christian or anti-Mugabe, but please go home and don't be flamboyant about it.
Comment for conservativehome.com

The treatment of gay men in Iraq came to prominence earlier this year when Mehdi Kazemi was threatened with deportation to Tehran - even after his boyfriend had been executed. Conor Burns wrote about it at the time for CentreRight.com.

This Labour Government is often 'tough' when it shouldn't be - as here - and 'soft' when it shouldn't be - illegal immigration more generally. Without commenting on individual cases it would be good to see Dominic Grieve taking up this general issue.

Tara's Crossing is a new play which explores the experience of lesbian & gay asylum seekers from Guyana living in the United States.
"The story is based on gays and lesbians who are not protected well in Guyana. The play is about Vermal's life and experiences in Guyana, her quest for freedom and to be granted asylum."

In one of the scenes, Hemraj recalled, when an attorney was interviewing Vermal, he reportedly called the Guyana Consulate and was told that there were no negative issues affecting gays in the country because there are no gays in Guyana.
Letters from Caroline Lucas, Green MEP. concerning Pegah Emambakash
At the Jerusalem Global Anglican Futures Conference a reporter representing the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement asked Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda to comment on the case of Prossy Kakooa, a Ugandan woman who was jailed, raped and tortured after it was discovered she was gay, and was currently fight a decision by the Home Office refuse her asylum in Britain.

Archbishop Orombi said he was unaware of the case, and after the details were related to him, said that all Anglicans, as well as all Ugandans would be shocked by the allegations of police brutality and would condemn it.

Dr Jensen summarized the views of all of the archbishops by saying, “any such violence or behaviour against gays and lesbians is condemned by us” and is contrary to Christian principles, and was utterly rejected.

However there is also this report of what was said:
When given the example of a lesbian women from Uganda who had applied for asylum in the UK after being jailed, raped in the police station, and marched for two miles naked through the streets of Uganda, Archbishop Akinola said: "That's one example. The laws in your countries say that homosexual acts, actions are punishable by various rules. I don't need to argue. If the practice (homosexuality) is now found to be in our society" he continued, "it is of service to be against it. Alright, and to that extent what my understanding is, is that those that are responsible for law and order will want to prevent wholesale importation of foreign practices and traditions, that are not consistent with native standards, native way of life."

Archbishop Henry Orombi said it was not possible, or the church's role in Uganda, to speak out favourably about gay and lesbian people. "The church's practice is to preach, to proclaim" he said, "so that people who find themselves in a position where they go away from the word of God, the same word of God can bring them back to life. And that is in Uganda as already Archbishop Akinola is saying."
From a Queer West forum, part of the international queer festival in Toronto:
"In Mexico, many people are assaulted and beaten based on what people interpret to be a lesbian or gay look," said Carolina Gama, a member of Mujeres al Frente (Women in the Front Line), a support group for Latin American LBTIQ women and transgender persons from Mexico, Central and South America living in Toronto.

"Just having short hair, loose clothes, not wearing makeup, anything not conforming to the female stereotype" would be a gay look.

Gama went on to detail the problems Latin American LGTBQ women face when claiming refugee status upon entering Canada.

"A common problem Mexican LGTBQ people face is being denied protection as a refugee because they can live in Mexico City without any aggression, so they are denied refugee status and told to go back even if they don't live anywhere near the city," said Gama. "Not every LGBTQ who is tortured, violated, beaten, raped is granted asylum in Canada."

The second speaker, Andrea Siemens, has worked extensively with Amnesty International's Refugee Network and Christian Peacemaker Teams overseas in Uganda and The West Bank and said the persecution some had to face could be found in almost all aspects of their society.

"A very widely read weekly tabloid in Uganda have at least three times published lists of 30 to 40 people that they identified to be gay or lesbian by name and at times dates of birth," Siemens said. "These people would lose their jobs, their homes and have to deal with people who can be very aggressive."

Siemens added she encountered a number of people overseas who hold the perception that the system in place to accommodate refugees or asylum seekers in Canada is easily accessible, but said in reality it can be difficult to secure status.

"Even with all the documented problems it's still very difficult for someone from Uganda identified as queer to come to Canada and say 'I'm facing persecution' and be granted asylum," Siemens said. "It's hard to believe and it works on a case-to-case basis, but one of the issues that comes up is proving it."


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