Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Media coverage of African gays stranded in western countries (US, Canada, UK) increases, maybe leading to new calls for volunteer action


Gay people, mainly men, now living in the United States and Canada (and obviously other countries like the UK) from African countries punishing homosexuality are likely to seek asylum and resist returning home.  Furthermore, some political people in these countries will certainly seek asylum.  Pamela Constable has a major story in the Washington Post Metro Section on Tuesday March 11, 2014, link here.  There seems to be one case in northern Virginia.  
The Washington Blade has a number of similar stories, such as here by Michael K. Levers.   The media is now reporting a scattered collection of cases of people in various cities, including the DC area, Chicago, New York, probably Dallas and Minneapolis, and Toronto.  Silicon Valley companies employing skilled immigrants may start running into this issue.  The bulk of the cases now seem to involve Nigeria, but there is mention of Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as, of course, Uganda. 
  
Recent laws seem to be inciting mob rule, especially in Nigeria (just as been reported in Russia).
  
The Blade reports protests at the Nigerian embassy on March 7, and a non-committal position from the State Department.  Curiously, there are some pro-gay efforts in countries like Botswana. 
  
Human Rights First has a position paper encouraging the US to strengthen its asylum capabilities, here

It’s natural to wonder how much this crisis will filter down into the gay communities and friends in the West, urging individuals to assist or house refugees personally.  That sort of plea happened in 1980 with the Cuban refugees.  In that case, the people were already here in the US, particularly in southern states.   That could become the case now, although the reports of persons in the US and other western countries with visas that would expire are scattered.   There could develop a situation where the ability of people to stay (or enter the country, depending on circumstances) could depend on readiness of individuals to step up.   The gay community is more diffuse now than it was in 1980, where people tended to funnel in a few places – in Dallas, it was the local Metropolitan Community Church in Oak Lawn on Reagan to get urgent information (and this was before AIDS was widely known).  It’s unclear how involved more progressive mainstream churches will get in this issue.   

This conference on Asylum Support in Chicago as taped on March 6, runs over an hour, and looks important. 
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I cannot yet predict reliably how I could respond to this, but I'll have more details on my upcoming plans on my main blog soon.  This issue will probably escalate in public attention at home quickly.  

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