In an historic foreign policy speech delivered today at the US State Department, President Joe Biden announced his Executive Order raising the Presidential Determination number for the admittance of refugees into the United Sates, this year - from Trump's 15,000 back to the Obama era number of 125,000. What made this speech so historic and hopeful for us at African Human Rights Coalition, is the fact that in refugee context, the President publicly mentioned the importance of LGBTQI refugees to this refugee program. For all refugees, this provides an enormous amount of hope given that Donald Trump sent four years decimating the program.
So many LGBTQI refugee were left in limbo, unsure of their fate because of of the overt cruelty of the Trump administration that had no regard for the extent of their persecution and the especially hard circumstances they are forced to endure. Many were also caught up in the Muslim travel bans.
LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers face extra trauma, barriers and concerns above that of their heterosexual counterparts, in that many have to seek UNHCR resettlement and protections through the platform of hostile host countries, which continue to criminalize and persecute them, in the same manner as the country from which they escaped. Some are also impacted by hostile straight refugee communities.
Over 70 Countries in the world, 32 in Africa, criminalize LGBTQI People.
While at African Human Rights Coalition we are so grateful for this swift Executive action and the historic mention of LGBTQI refugees by President Biden, we will be holding the Biden Admin to the highest of expectations, as we call for numbers in the future to exceed the Presidential Determination 125,000 admissions number. We believe once systems are restored America will be capable of receiving over 200,000 refugees. We also call for special expedited considerations for LGBTQI refugees who face ongoing survival issues, failed protection, detentions and persecution, to include violence and torture at the hands of the authorities in hostile host countries. Africa is very hard hit and refugees must be resettled swiftly. Melanie Nathan, Executive Director African Human Rights Coalition. nathan@africanHRC.org