The recent executive order on immigration specifically bars anyone who would oppress people because of sexual orientation. Which, again, is fantastic. But what about gays, lesbians, trans, and others trying to escape to the United States? Where does the executive order leave our community’s asylum seekers and refugees?
The order contains an exception for those subject to religious persecution — which sounds great because gays suffer horrible religious persecution. But that’s not how it’s written. Instead, per Breitbart, the text says:
The executive order did however, allow the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the discretion, on a case by case basis, “to process . . . those refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”
That last part would limit the exemption to those being persecuted because of their religion, not because of their sexual orientation (or gender identity).
There’s no doubt that Christian and other religious minorities are horribly treated in the countries targeted by the order. But that does not justify slamming the door on gays who need to escape these countries.
Indeed, Buzzfeed reports on gays seeking asylum from Muslim countries. These people are now trapped in limbo; facing persecution and death in their homeland but kicked out of the U.S. asylum process.
President Trump, as our policies are reviewed in the upcoming months, please make it clear that gays should also have priority for religious persecution. When we are fleeing countries like Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria, it’s because we are being rounded up and killed if it is discovered we are gay.
Thank you for acknowledging in your executive order that gay and lesbians are being oppressed. Now make it clear that we can use the refugee and asylum process as it was intended: to escape this religious persecution and find a better life in America.