HIAS Deeply Concerned About LGBT Refugees Abroad: Supports Sen. Gillibrand's letter to Secretary of State on ways to safeguard this population

Posted on Thu, Feb 04, 2010 at 14:31 pm

(New York, NY) – HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, is deeply concerned about the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in countries where these individuals are at great risk and afforded inadequate protection by the government. We applaud Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY) for forcefully expressing those concerns to Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton in a letter joined by a dozen Senators and 32 Representatives.

According to Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO of HIAS: “Refugees who have fled persecution on the basis of their sexuality are among the most vulnerable in the world, as persecution often follows them across borders from one country to the next. Additionally, in some parts of the world the LGBT population is at special risk because of strong cultural mores that reject and demonize all but traditional male/female relationships.

“For some, resettlement to the U. S. or another free country is the only life-saving solution, but neither the U.S. Refugee Program nor the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is adequately prepared to give LGBT refugees the access to safety that they so desperately need. The Congressional letter organized by Sen. Gillibrand to Secretary Clinton suggests sensible and concrete steps to save the lives of LGBT refugees, and we urge the Department of State to give these suggestions expeditious consideration.”

HIAS works with refugees and migrants at risk around the world, without regard for religion, nationality, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Overseas and at its New York City- headquarters, HIAS has successfully worked on a number of cases of LGBT individuals seeking refugee status from abroad or asylum in the U.S. because return to their home country could result in persecution, torture, or death. Additionally, HIAS advocates to elected and appointed officials on refugee and asylum issues, and recently passed a board resolution supporting the rights of LGBT individuals to sponsor permanent partners to join them in the U.S. as legal immigrants.