LGBTQ Asylum Seekers Deserve Safety: Keep "PSG"

12/12/2016 12:37 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2016
<em>Photo Source:</em> <em>&quot;</em><a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/51118464@N06/5925209471/in/photol
Nicky Rowbottom
Photo Source: "Pride London Parade, July 2011" by Nicky Rowbottom is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.

For too many people around the world, "coming out" continues to be fundamentally dangerous. It is still illegal to be gay in 73 countries. LGBTQ people in these countries are imprisoned and subjected to "corrective" action, including rape by government officials and public humiliation. In 10 countries, homosexuality is punishable with the death penalty. As a result, many persecuted members of the LGBTQ community seek refuge in the United States.

Despite this persisting reality, the Republican Party Platform (released in July 2016), expressed an overt desire to narrow the category of people eligible for asylum in the U.S. Specifically, the Platform states:

"Asylum should be limited to cases of political, ethnic or religious persecution."

This thinking is cause for concern because it omits protection for people seeking asylum due to membership in a "particular social group" ("PSG"). The "PSG" clause currently protects an array of vulnerable people, including: persecuted LGBTQ people, victims of domestic violence, and female genital mutilation. (In 1994, "membership in a particular social group" was expanded to include sexual orientation.) Therefore, if implemented into practice, this seemingly minor omission will have dire consequences for LGBTQ people worldwide.

If this language is successfully removed by the Republican Party as a legitimate reason to seek asylum in the U.S., what will happen to the millions of LGBTQ people who remain at risk abroad? Where will they turn to for safety?

If we allow the incoming administration to strip “PSG” from our country’s list of eligible criteria to seek asylum, then we are allowing the U.S. to abandon the millions of LGBTQ people worldwide who remain trapped in dangerous homophobic and transphobic countries. 

As a nation, we need to hold General John Kelly, incoming secretary of Homeland Security, and the 115th Congress accountable. We need to make sure that the incoming administration makes it a priority to protect all LGBTQ people - instead of eliminating "PSG" and effectively, extinguishing the hope for a better life for millions of persecuted LGBTQ people around the world.

As U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's notoriously anti-LGBTQ administration takes office, it is more important than ever to ensure that persecution based on sexual orientation remains recognized as legitimate grounds to seek asylum in the U.S.

According to PinkNews:

"Every single Trump cabinet member so far opposes LGBT rights."

Their records speak for themselves.

Mike Pence, Vice President

  • Argued for public funding of conversion therapy (a harmful, discredited psychological treatment that tries to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity).

Steve Bannon, Top White House Advisor

  • Published headlines including: "Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It's Time to Get Back in the Closet," & "Day Of Silence: How The LGBT Agenda Is Hijacking America's Youth."

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education

  • Family organizations have also made large donations to anti-gay marriage causes.

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General

Tom Price, Secretary of Health & Human Services

We cannot allow for anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigration sentiments to erode our country's moral character. As LGBTQ asylum claims continue to increase, there remains a clear need for LGBTQ asylum in the U.S. The "PSG" clause must stand. 

To settle for anything less, would be a great disservice not only to our nation but to the larger global community. We need to move forward, not backwards.

Lives are at stake.

Protect the "PSG" clause today. Sign this petition to help deliver a clear message to the incoming administration that we, as a nation, will not stand for the removal of "PSG" as legal grounds to seek asylum in the U.S.

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