The hostile immigration restrictions introduced by the Trump administration have “terrified” LGBT+ asylum claimants, says the head of a top US NGO.
The revised version of Trump’s travel ban has spelt disaster for people residing in the US who are from one of the six countries that made the final cut in the discriminatory bill.
For the likes of Mohamed, time is running out.
The gay man from Syria applied for asylum in 2014 and has still not been granted a working visa renewal.
“The number of LGBT people who make it through the system alive and request resettlement is small, it does not even reach the tip of the percentage of LGBTQI people that are represented in the international population,” Neil Grungas, executive director of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration told TeleSUR.
“People are just absolutely terrified to come out, and rightly so, they will be dead, they will be dead if they come out,” Grungas said. “The consequence is severe hardship for people who’ve already fled some horrific trauma.”
Even before the visa restrictions came into play, LGBT+ refugees were frequently turned down for a valid visa owing to factors such as lack of employment, family ties, and low homeownership rates, reported TeleSUR.
President Donald Trump attempted to ban people seeking refuge in the US from entering the country from seven countries.
The nations, which have a Muslim-majority population, were subject to a travel ban.
The consequences of this executive order reverberated internationally.
More than 700 travelers were detained, and up to 60,000 visas were “provisionally revoked” after the order was issued.
According to a study conducted by the Williams Institute in 2015, an estimated 190,000 undocumented adult LGBT immigrants from Latin America — mostly from Central America — are also residing in the United States.
They face heightened levels of harassment, discrimination, physical and psychological abuse, often even from their family and community, reported TeleSUR.
In spite of The Equality Act, it appears that a staggering number of workplaces think that they can discriminate against transgender employees.
After a poll 1000 different workplaces, 43 percent of employers said that they are “unsure” if they would hire a transgender person in their workplace.
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Out of the 1 in 3 employers admitting they are “less likely” to hire a transgender person, just 8 percent said that they believe they should have the same rights to be employed as a cisgendered person, in a survey carried out by Crossland Employment Solicitors.
However, this transphobia is not limited to the workplace.
Beverley Sunderland, Managing Director of Crossland Employment Solicitors – who carried out the survey – said: “Our findings reinforce what bodies such as ACAS and the Women and Equalities Select Committee have been highlighting to the Government for years; trans identity is more complex than the law currently recognises.
“What’s most worrying is the high percentage of employers that are biased against transgender workers from the recruitment stage and beyond. And not just in one sector, but a prejudiced attitude that is found throughout both shop floor and management in particular in the retail and tech sectors. Whether this reflects a lack of understanding or simply a fear of a potential discrimination claim, is not evident.
After working with some of the most vulnerable claimants on record, the charity wants the Canadian government to step up and save more lives.
“It’s fitting that World Refugee Day falls during Pride Month,” said Rainbow Road executive director Kimahli Powell.
“LGBTQI asylum seekers are often forced to flee their home, family and country because of who they are and who they love.”
Rainbow Railroad has helped 450 LGBTQI people in dangerous situations find safety since it was founded in 2006.
“This is a chance to put the spotlight on the global refugee crisis, and remember that LGBTQI refugees are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse,” said Powell in a statement.
In 72 countries, queer and trans people can face criminal charges under colonial-era anti-gay laws that can result in life in prison, according to ILGA’s 2017 report.
As the case of Bruce McArthur proves, the spotlight is on Canada to provide as much support and safety for refugees as possible.
The suspected serial killer was said to have targeted vulnerable asylum claimants who had moved over to the country to start a new life.
Queer Sri Lankan asylum claimant Skandaraj Navaratnam, gay Aghanistani Majeed Kayhan and gay Turkish man Selim Esen are just a few of the LGBT+ men allegedly targeted by McArthur.
Bisexual asylum applicants also face particular difficulties in securing residency in the nation.
Researcher Sean Rehagg found that bisexual applicants made up 7 percent of the claims, and the success rate of bisexual applicants was 25 percent, while LGBT+ applicants that identified other than bisexual had a 49 percent success rate.
Three LGBT luminaries have been won prizes for their literary and journalistic feats in this year’s Pulitzer Prize.
The 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners in 14 journalism and seven letters, drama and music categories were announced on Monday.
Journalist Ronan Farrow, novelist Andrew Sean Greer and poet Frank Bidart have had their work honoured this year by the highly coveted prize-givers, as well as The Washington Post for its work exposing anti-LGBT senator and alleged sexual predator Roy Moore.
Farrow, who revealed this month that he is a “member of the LGBT” community, has received a public service award for his work in The New Yorker exposing allegations of sexual misconduct against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
The publication shared the prize with The New York Times for their joint coverage of the Weinstein scandal.
The Washington Post received the body’s investigative prize for their work in exposing the alleged sexually misconduct of Moore, the Republican candidate for last October’s special senate election in Alabama.
Andrew Sean Greer, who identifies as gay, won the Pulitzer prize for fition with his novel Less, which has been described by judges as “a generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love.”
Meanwhile, Farrow said last week that “being part of the LGBT community” supported and “elevated” his reporting on the Weinstein saga.
“Being a part of the LGBT community, which recognised that reporting I was doing early on and elevated it, and has been such a stalwart source of support through the sexual assault reporting I did involving survivors who felt equally invisible — that has been an incredible source of strength for me,” said Farrow.
“LGBT people are some of the bravest and most potent change agents and leaders I have encountered, and the most forceful defenders of the vulnerable and voiceless, because they know what it’s like to be there.”
Poet Bidart, who is also gay, was honoured for his poetry. Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 has been described by judges as “a volume of unyielding ambition and remarkable scope that mixes long dramatic poems with short elliptical lyrics, building on classical mythology and reinventing forms of desires that defy societal norms.”
Kendrick Lamar also scooped the music prize for album DAMN., making him the first artist to win the prestigious accolade who is not part of the jazz or classical genre.
Although a flood of queer films are being celebrated in the mainstream, there’s still something missing from the roster of movies that have been released.
Whether it’s Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name or Love, Simon being celebrated through gleaming accolades in Hollywood, there’s one poignant act about queer coming of age films: They are not favouring the depiction of lesbian women.
According to GLAAD – the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – gay men comprise an overwhelming 83 percent of LGBT representation in the media, while lesbian characters featured on our screens at 35 percent of the rate.
In 2017, the organisation also found that of the 2016’s top films just 18 percent included LGBTQ characters.
“Gay men seem to be so much better represented [than lesbians], although I’d say they get slotted into the camp niche and the diversity of their representation is consequentially restricted,” a spokesperson for the Arts Trade Union Equity said to studybreaks.com.
“Gay male representation is improving, although camp gay men are still the norm, especially in comedy scenarios.”
Even on TV screens, explicitly lesbian dramas do not seem to make the silver screen’s grade.
Although flourishing bisexual characters can be seen in the likes of Riverdale, shows such like Everything Sucks! have been discontinued to a great deal of backlash.
Hopes are high that the release ofDisobediencewill start to equal out the stakes when it comes to lesbian representation in Hollywood film.
Starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, the film follows a young woman who returns to her Orthodox Jewish home after learning about the death of her estranged father.
Unable to deny her feelings for her best friend, she rekindles her love for the woman who is now married to her cousin.
However, UK fans will have a bit of a wait on their hands when it comes to the adaptation of the Naomi Alderman novel, which will be coming to British screens on 28 September 2018.
However, whether it’s Disobedience or Love, Simon, one thing is apparent: None of these title roles are being played by queer actors.
Perhaps it’s also worth asking the industry if it will only change when it puts queer actors on the screen – and introduces them into the lofty ranks of the industry.
Boston Marathon has announced that trans people will be able to compete in its next run.
The organisers of the event have come forward to say that they will “take people at their word” and allow competitors to define their gender however they see fit.
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” said Tom Grilk, chief of the Boston Athletic Association, the group behind the race to ABC News.
“Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
At least five openly transgender women are signed up to compete in the 26.2 mile feat through the Massachusetts city.
And is it not just Boston that is taking a more inclusive approach when it comes to running.
Organizers of the Chicago, New York City, London and Los Angeles marathons have also said that they will allow competitors to compete regardless of gender identity.
Although for trans competitors who haven’t legally changed their gender, there still might be a final hurdle when it comes to competing.
Runners are required to submit ID at the registration desk prior to competing in a marathon, which could throw up problems for those who have not legally changed their gender.
“To be able to experience it as me was really, really important,” said Stevie Romer, a trans Boston Marathon competitor to ABC News.
“I’ve been a runner since as long as I can remember. I love running, but I just happen to be transgender.”
There are a lot of misconceptions about trans people competing in sport – the most recent case of this saw the Australian Weightlifting Federation attempt to block trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard from competing – which can stigmatise trans competitors.
In reality, the likes of testosterone blockers can put trans competitors at a disadvantage in the sport, especially with side effects such as dehydration and dizziness affecting those on testosterone blockers.
Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon.
The event attracts around 500,000 spectators each year, with elite competitors who have reached a certain qualifying time selected to compete.
More transgender people in the US are opting for bottom surgery, a report from one of the country’s leading medical schools has revealed.
According to statistics compiled by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, from 2006 to 2011 83.9 percent of patients asked for the surgery, in comparison to 72 percent in 2000-2006, reported The Independent.
Collated through data of National Inpatient Sample (NIS) from 2000 to 2014, the data covers 95% of hospitals in the States.
The study has emphasised the importance of health insurers not discriminating against trans people who want the surgery – top, bottom, or both.
This is due to the fact that out of 4,118 people who underwent genital surgery, 56.3 per cent did not have any health insurance cover.
Furthermore, for trans people who had Medicare or Medicaid insurance policies, 70 chose to have genital surgery in 2014.
The patients were aged from 26-49, reported the study’s authors, Joseph Canner and Omar Harfouch.
Although the demand for gender reassignment surgery has quadrupled in the UK from 2008-2016, gender reassignment is still a lengthy process under the NHS.
Basic surgeries may be covered by the national health service, but users may wish to embark upon additional surgery in order to alter their appearance.
Yet spite of the rise in people needing access to surgery and a surge in transgender rights activism in the mainstream, it appears that President Donald Trump is still hellbent on making life for trans people as difficult as possible.
As well as scrapping Title IX protections which ensure that trans people’s rights are protected in educational institutions, the US administration was the only country where homosexuality is legal that also voted in favour of the death penalty for gay people at a UN summit.
Peter* had set up a Skype account just to speak to PinkNews.
Even though it has been six months since he left Russia to embark upon a new life in Belarus, he has to be cautious, and won’t tell me his real name.
Since Russia’s gay propaganda law came into action in 2013, a spate of attacks against the country’s LGBT+ community have a affected the gay, bi and lesbian community’s right to an education, a job, and even the right to their life.
An according to Peter, even sharing a post advocating for gay rights can result in your arrest.
“Everyone knows everything about you. You can go to jail just for reposting stuff on social media,” he said.
The story of exile began for Peter* when the Russian’s neighbours began to gossip about Peter and his boyfriend.
Living in a small Russian town near Moscow, the 32-year-old found that news quickly spread about his sexuality.
“People in the city saw us and the gossips told everyone around the city. After that everyone in the community knew,” he said.
Although he had lived in his hometown for as long as anyone could remember, his life as a gay man started to become difficult as pressures from religious groups and the government mounted.
“Everyone knows me everywhere. In the city when I worked, everyone knew, no matter where I went or no matter what I did,” he said.
Since the introduction of the gay propaganda law, the little protections LGBT+ Russians had have now dissipated.
In order to survive, Peter started to take lower paid work as a programmer, as his sexuality was used as a bargaining chip for him to take lesser paid work.
“I couldn’t find work or live my life normally. There’s a forum where gay freelancers and programmers are listed. Everyone in the community online and offline knew me,” he said.
“I wasn’t beaten, but I was discriminated against. I identify as gay, and I’ve never hidden it. That’s why there were problems. There’s a website that writes about every programmer and freelancer there, and they outed me. After that, it was even hard to get work through unofficial channels.
“I would get lower paid work, when I could,” he added.
The stress of not being able to find paid work was compounded by the hostile reactions Peter faced from his family, which left him with no other options: he would have to move.
“My family knew about my sexuality, and were incredibly negative about me. One of the main reasons I left Russia was because I had so little support from my family there,” he said.
The pressure started to take its toll on Peter and his boyfriend.
After moving to a different city in the hope that life would improve, the relationship started to fall apart.
First, we lived together in a different city first, and moved together. But it may have been a different city, but the same attitudes remained. We couldn’t get work, and we were scared of being attacked. That’s when my boyfriend left me, and said “I don’t need this.” It’s really hard, and not everyone can manage to keep a relationship going under that pressure,” he said.
Now alone, Peter decided to ask a friend for advice on how to escape Russia, and decided to enter Belarus.
The post-Eastern Bloc nation of Belarus lies to the left of Moscow.
The landlocked country, which shares borders with Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, is home to 9.5 million people – 800,000 more people than in London.
Around 8.3% of the country is made up of Russian migrants, and Russian is spoken as the country’s official language.
With its close ties to Russia, it was a feasible place for Peter to flee.
“You can access Belarus without a VISA or passport,” he said.
“It takes about two days to get to Belarus on the train. It took another three days on the car so we could get away from the border. You can go to Belarus without even a passport – it’s easier to enter even than Ukraine, which made the decision for me,” he said.
But unfortunately for Peter and other Russian LGBT+ asylum seekers, it shares a lot of the same hostilities.
“When I got there, friends took me in and helped me out. They even helped me with money and work when I first arrived. In Belarus, it’s more tolerant than in Russia,” he explained.
“I still can’t work properly, but at least I know I won’t be killed here. It’s not so tolerant, it’s old-fashioned, but they won’t kill you, like what happened in Russia,” he added.
Apart from with a small group of friends, Peter now lives his life in the closet, disclosing his sexuality only when he feels it is safe.
“If anyone found out about my sexuality, they might get aggressive, or even start a fight. There is not one way people react. There are only two ways, but in Russia, there’s just one: aggression all of the time. Some people are really easy about it here, some people are ridiculously aggressive. But in comparison to Russia, it’s a lighter load to bear,” he added.
But, similar to other post-Eastern Bloc LGBT+ asylum seekers from Russia, Peter is concerned that time is not on his side, and a move out of the country is essential to his survival.
“I try to hide my sexuality now, but as I am facing a small community just like before, it’s only a matter of time before people find out,” he said.
“I am working to save money to get out of Belarus. I want to go to the EU, an English-speaking country, where people are more tolerant,” he said.