LGBT people around the world experience persecution as a result of anti-gay (homophobic) and anti-trans* (transphobic) social attitudes and laws which criminalize LGBT identities or activities. There are currently anti-LGBT laws in existence in over 80 countries. As a result of these laws, LGBT people can be imprisoned, fined, experience violent sanctions, and be subjected to practices such as “corrective rape,” conversion therapy and forced medial treatment. In 7 countries, homosexuality can be punished by the death penalty. These laws also impact transgender people, who are often presumed or misunderstood to be gay or lesbian.
It would be impossible to fully capture here every reason why LGBT people migrate worldwide. However, we know from asylum claims submitted in the United States that a significant number of LGBT people migrate because they fear persecution. They leave their home countries because of a variety of adverse experiences related to their sexual identity, gender, or gender expression. This is often the result of state-sponsored persecution. Migration is also caused by systematic discrimination, which can cause LGBT people to be excluded from basic public services, face difficulty finding a job, accessing education, finding housing, and be unable to live safely with their chosen family.
Resources for Asylum Applications
To be eligible for asylum, an individual must be able to prove they have “a well-founded fear of future persecution.” To determine if a particular harm or cumulative harms amount to persecution under U.S. immigration law, each case must be considered on an individual basis and will depend on the particular facts of the case. The “country conditions” of an asylum seeker’s country of origin will have a significant impact on the strength of their case. It is important that claimants prove that their home country is unsafe for them, because they are LGBT. For lawyers, individuals, or NGO’s seeking information on the specific conditions case, we recommended accessing the following resources:
- Outright Action International has detailed coverage of many countries
- International lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association website offers detailed, up to date resources
- The University of Toronto has complied detailed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (“SOGI”) Country-Conditions Memos list
- The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies has a searchable database of case files which can prove useful reference points
- The State Department Human Rights Reports are useful resources, updated each year
- Major Human Rights organizations also publish country reports, on a variety of issues. See Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Conduct an internet search with the phrase “LGBT asylum country condition report” and the name of the country of interest
- Gather newspaper and magazines articles of relevance from reputable international sources (The BBC, The New York Times, etc.) as well as national and local press from the country of origin
- Immigration Equality offers tips for compiling a Country Conditions report specific and relevant to an individual’s applicaiton
Global LGBT Rights Campaigns
Not all LGBT individuals leave their countries. Some who stay create vibrant, often underground, groups working towards gaining LGBT acceptance and rights unique to their country of origin and culture.
As an outsider, these groups can be difficult to locate for a number of reasons. Whether due to government oversight of internet or to the practical and fiscal benefits of social media, more and more LGBT Rights Groups are moving away from maintaining traditional websites. Rather many are adopting social media presences because, unlike websites, a social media profile can be operated at low to no-cost and anonymously. In addition, information can be shared in real time using as little as a cell phone.
This useful page provides a list of Global LGBT Rights Groups by country. In addition to looking for these groups through search engines, we also recommend searching social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.