Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Asylum issue discussed after film at HRC forum, but remarks were kept general and high-level

At an HRC screening of a film (sponsored by Reel Affirmations) on the anti-gay “propaganda law” in Russia (that is, “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” by Michael Lucas, there were people from the DC Lesbian and Gay Center and Spectrum present during the QA.

The discussion pointed out that the rules for asylum do allow someone who belongs to a stigmatized “social group” to apply, and that the person does not have to “prove” that he or she is gay. 
I discussed the issue privately afterwards.  A few asylees from Russia and possibly Africa are in Washington, as in some other cities (especially Chicago).   The DC Center says it needs more help, but its website doesn’t give specifics, and neither does Spectrum.

People on asylum typically would not be allowed to work in the US for at least six months, so, as someone said, they would need “connections” to support them.  However, in contrast to how the 1980 Cuban Refugee crisis was handled in southern states, there has been no plea to ask people to house them or support them.  At that time, it was presented as a “moral edge”.  Personal morality (“paying it forward” and the like) has been kept out of the discussion this time.

There are good reasons for this.  The government is not pressuring individual Americans to support refugees (as with the Central American crisis and migrant children), because that could indirectly encourage illegal immigration.  In some countries (like Israel) that would normally be OK now with gay immigrants, there is concern that someone could feign homosexuality to hide terrorism.  And, following the news, there can be public health risks, especially from some countries (and in the future there could be other health issues besides Ebola or, in this context, HIV). 
The Washington Blade, in a story by Michael K. Lavers, reports a horrific attempted street kidnapping of gay activist in Hondouras, but the young man escaped, story here

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