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Seeking Asylum for LGBTQ Immigrants

Seeking Asylum for LGBTQ Immigrants

Sadly, in many parts of the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people are subject to cruel treatment. These acts of violence or threatened violence are committed not because the victim has done anything wrong but rather because of who they are – because of their status as in the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ members face various types of harm in their home countries, such as:

  • Discrimination,
  • Domestic violence,
  • Verbal abuse,
  • Rape, and
  • Murder.

These acts are perpetrated by the person’s school, workplace, community, friends, family members, and/or government. Often, realizing that they have little to no protection from current or future persecution in their home countries, LGBTQ people flee, seeking safety in other countries.

Fortunately, the United States Government recognizes the mental and physical harm members of the LGBTQ community can suffer if they remain in their countries of origin. It offers asylum to those who have been persecuted against or fear persecution should they return to their home countries.

Asylum provides protection to LGBTQ immigrants. It allows them to live and work in the U.S. legally and affords them various other rights. According to a study by the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, between 2012 and 2017, the U.S. received 3,899 asylum claims based on LGBTQ status, with over 98% of those resulting in a positive determination of fear.

For an LGBTQ immigrant to be granted asylum in the U.S., they must establish their status as well as the persecution they faced or could face if they return home. We’ll discuss these topics in more detail in this blog.

The Basis for Seeking Asylum in the U.S.

For an LGBTQ immigrant to seek asylum in the U.S., they must establish a couple of things. First, they must show that they are a member of a class eligible for this protection.

The U.S. Government recognizes asylum claims based on:

  • Race,
  • Religion,
  • Nationality,
  • Membership in a particular social group, or
  • Political opinion.

For LGBTQ people, the basis for their asylum application is their “membership in a particular social group.”

The individual must also demonstrate that they have a “reasonable fear of persecution.” In other words, they must show that they have been or will be subject to violence or other harm in their country of origin because they are a member of the LGBTQ community.

Persecution means that physical force or the threat of such has been or will be inflicted on the individual because of a certain characteristic. In other words, the only reason that the persecutor has or will commit atrocities against the individual is because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning, and the persecutor seeks to punish them for that.

Persecution comes in many forms including, but not limited to:

  • Confinement,
  • Psychological harm,
  • Torture,
  • Harassment, and
  • Economic harm.

Establishing Status as a Member of the LGBTQ Community

When applying for asylum, it is not enough for the immigrant to say that they are LGBTQ. They must also back this up with proof.

This part of the process can be difficult and uncomfortable, especially when the individual has recently come from a place where they were or would have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, it is necessary to submit an asylum application. An immigration attorney can be instrumental in providing the support and guidance needed throughout the process.

Ways to corroborate a claim for asylum based on LGBTQ membership include:

  • Receiving a statement from a former or current partner. The applicant can have their partner or spouse provide written confirmation of their current or past relationship. Typically, the document must include information about how the individuals got together and how long they have been or were in a relationship. Including photographs, texts, emails, or other exchanges between the individuals may also serve as proof.
  • Receiving a statement from someone familiar with the individual’s status as an LGBTQ person. In many situations, individuals seeking asylum might not have had a partner. This is understandable, as having an LGBTQ relationship could have been cause for injury or other harm. In these cases, the applicant can establish their LGBTQ membership by getting an affidavit from someone they confided in about their sexual orientation.
  • Demonstrating involvement in the LGBTQ community. The asylum seeker can attempt to prove their sexual orientation by including with their application documentation of being an active member of the LGBTQ community. For instance, being a member of an organization that fights for gay rights. Likely, their involvement would be with groups they joined after they arrived in the U.S.

Establishing Persecution in Home Country

Another difficult part of the asylum-seeking process is proving that the LGBTQ person was persecuted or has a reasonable fear of being persecuted. Discussing the atrocities suffered or likely suffered can be emotionally challenging, but our immigration attorney can help them through.

The individual must show that what they experienced or could likely encounter in their home country resulted from their membership in the LGBTQ community. They must also provide details concerning their situation.

An LGBTQ immigrant can prove persecution in several ways, such as through:

  • Police reports. If the individual reported the harm they suffered to law enforcement, they could include copies of the official documentation of the incident.
  • Medical records and photographs. If the individual suffered physical injury, the records of medical treatment they received or pictures of wounds might serve as proof.

Because an LGBTQ immigrant can seek asylum based on a fear of persecution and not just actual persecution, they might not have been physically or psychologically harmed. Thus, they must establish that they have a well-founded fear of returning to their country of origin because of possible persecution.

Again, they can do this in several ways. For example, they can include reports of mistreatment of LGBTQ members in the home country. The applicant can provide news articles or government reports concerning the harms suffered by or crimes against LGBTQ members, as well as any details about hate or intolerance directed at individuals because of their sexual orientation.

Filing for Asylum with the Help of Our Immigration Lawyer

An LGBTQ immigrant can file for asylum within one year after entering the U.S. Some exceptions to this deadline exist, such as extraordinary circumstances preventing the submission of an application.

At Musa-Obregon Law PC, we recognize the significant challenges LGBTQ immigrants face when leaving their home country and seeking safety in the U.S. No one should have to suffer harm because of who they are. Everybody has the right to live a life free of fear and violence. Our goal is to help LGBTQ immigrants pursue protection and a better future.

To speak with one of our New York City LGBTQ Immigration attorneys, please contact us at (888) 502-8461 today.

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