One Equal World

Vulnerability of Syrian LGBT Refugees

Posted on: December 21, 2015

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The White House made a statement this week that while queer and trans refugees fleeing Syria will be a ‘priority’ among placements, they won’t be setting aside any quota of spots. They will, however, be making their decisions based on which refugees are ‘deemed to be the most vulnerable.’

The vulnerability of the Syrian refugee population is not in question. Daesh Militants have been reportedly singling out gay men for persecution and torture. So far, they have reportedly executed more than 30 men for supposedly committing ‘sodomy,’ and in Damascus, there were reports of the brutal murder of a trans woman hung by her breasts. They are perhaps at more risk than anyone else living in the vicinity of the militants.

A spokesman of the State Department confirmed that no quota would be set for accepting LGBT Syrian Refugees. “Each refugee applicant is considered for U.S. resettlement based upon the merits of his or her individual claim, which could include persecution based on being LGBT,” the spokesperson said.

But how genuine is that? Refugees who have recently or are currently undergoing the screening process report a twisting labyrinth of having to prove that they are gay against an adversarial interviewer. Not being in a current relationship is grounds for being accused of lying. Reporting that you are in a same-sex relationship despite the danger is also grounds for being accused of lying. Whether or not an asylum speaker has read Oscar Wilde is taken into account, despite the fact that few Syrian refugees read English. Many of the criteria read like a ‘Don’t’ list of LGBT stereotypes.

Where will this leave the LGBT population who desperately needs to leave their hostile homeland? Going back is all too often a death sentence, their own flight having outed them to their neighbors.


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