For Immediate Release:
Contact: Melanie Nathan, Executive Director,
African Human Rights Coalition
Dated: July 15, 2020
Today African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) submitted its strong opposition to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) proposed new rule that would effectively destroy the asylum process in the United States. This rule would make it almost impossible for survivors of gender-based violence including women, and Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex LGBTQ+ people, especially those lacking legal representation – to obtain asylum in the United States.
In the submission Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of AHRC noted:
“This rule is inhumane and cruel, turning away the most vulnerable and highly persecuted people in the world. It is contrary to our American values, making it almost impossible for survivors of gender-based violence including women and LGBTQI people, especially those lacking legal representation – to obtain asylum in the United States.
Over 30 countries criminalize LGBTQI people in Africa, with harsh punitive measures, prison and in some the death penalty. LGBTQI people have nowhere to go except countries that provide equality. Persecuted LGBTQI asylum seekers have been ostracized and persecuted by government, family and community. America has been a beacon for freedom and equality. This rule will cause America to turn its back on thousands, including LGBTQI seeking safety and freedom.
The rule sets up traumatized people who, most often, have taken great risks and endured added violence to reach our borders for safety, now under greater threat of being forcibly returned to countries where they will experience retribution, abuse, physical and psychological violence, torture, and even death. This rule will be a death sentence for thousands of asylum seekers.”
The Submission delineated that the Rule:
Completely bars the granting of asylum on the basis of gender;
Changes the very definition of “persecution”- so that even an LGBTQI person who is criminalized and hence detained by police due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, the very reason they need asylum, might not qualify;
Redefines some of the core grounds for asylum claims, including membership in a “particular social group,” which could have a dire impact on women and LGBTQ individuals;
Changes the definition of "political opinion" to deny many asylum claims based on violence experienced for advocating for LGBTQI rights;
Denies asylum to people who transited through other countries on their way to the United States, often the ONLY mechanism for reaching our borders, crossing through countries where they cannot be safe due to criminalization and persecution of sexual orientation and gender identity;
Denies asylum seekers basic due process and their day in court by allowing immigration judges to decide cases just based on asylum seekers’ written applications;
Excludes those who have been undocumented in the US for over a year before seeking asylum even in light of extenuating circumstances such as having PTSD.
Reflecting on Uganda, one of the 30 countries that criminalize LGBTQI people on the Continent of Africa, AHRC provided a 54 page Dossier using the Country as an example to outline a history with case examples, shining a light on the extreme nature of the persecution so many suffer. The Review requires a full read of all submissions.
The organization further noted that the Rule represents an orchestrated attack on asylum seekers, to deny freedom and send vulnerable people, mostly of color, back into the arms of oppression.
Nathan noted that “America has always proudly led the world with its imperative contribution to those seeking equality and freedom from oppression. This rule serves to foster an era reflective of racist and xenophobic policies that denies us our core values and our respected standing in the global community. This rule is an attack on democracy and freedom and will shame America, as it slashes the values engendered by our founders.”
Uganda is one example, ironically, where American Evangelicals participated in enhancing the persecution of LGBTQI individuals and now this rule seeks to cut off a critical remedy for those impacted by such persecution.
The deadline for submissions is midnight July 15,2020.
African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) partners with LGBTQI communities and individuals in and from African countries seeking to claim and defend their human rights, with advocacy, resources and direct services: To combat homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, as well as related individual case advocacy, forming coalition alliances locally, on the continent, and abroad; to provide fully comprehensive and ad hoc case management services for LGBTQI individuals, asylum seekers and refugees, to include humanitarian assistance, referrals and resources. AHRC's ultimate goal is to partner for change, in the hope Africa can return to its pre-Colonial time of acceptance of sexuality, so Africa's environment for LGBTQI people advances the pursuit of freedom and happiness.
Press Contact: Melanie Nathan, Executive Director, African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) nathan@AfricanHRC.org