Thursday, 16 June 2011

Campaigning for GBLT asylum

LGBT Asylum News has some important information about a campaign to draw attention to the UK's appalling and homophobic asylum system and the gross “fast track” system (oh gods I loathe that system)

It's a good blog to follow as well, covering news that rarely reaches our attention

I've said before that Asylum is a GBLT issue. That hasn't changed – in fact, depressingly, it hasn't really changed at all. To be honest in many ways I am torn about just reposting my previous post because everything there is still as vital and current today as it was then.

There is an ongoing genocide against GBLT people across much of the globe. It is widespread. Between nations that outright kill us for being GBLT, to nations that would imprison us for existing, to nations that torture and flog GBLT people. Even beyond legal persecution, there are no small number of nations that tacitly approve of persecution or don't give a damn about it. A gang of bigots beating you to death in the street may not be the same as government police taking you to be executed – but you're no less dead in the end and no more safe while alive.

Some of these places are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Or, to put it another way, GBLT people in those places are unlikely to experience the level of safety many of us take for granted (yes I said “level of safety” because I don't think there is such a thing as safety for GBLT people in the world). For many here, their only real chance to survive, let alone survive and live openly and proudly, is to leave. Even the incredibly brave heroes who fight and protest and march and campaign in these places – people whose courage I can only marvel at and can't come close to imagining – are sometimes driven to leave their homes.

Sometimes becoming a refugee is the only choice literally to keep body and soul together.

Unfortunately claiming asylum as a GBLT person is fraught to say the least. Some governments demand phallometric testing – deeply questionable methods of testing whether someone is sexually aroused or not to test if someone is actually gay. Authorities have refused asylum because the refugee doesn't conform to ridiculously stereotypical behaviour even because the refugee doesn't read “GBLT literature”.

And then of course many are rejected because they ARE believed to be GBLT – but it's assumed they'll be safe if they stay closeted. Which is a horrendous way to live and, to say nothing of not always being ABLE to stay closeted. Many communities are suspicious if an adult remains unmarried for too long – so this often necessitates a whole faked life. The privilege required to believe this is acceptable would boggle me – if it weren't so damn common for people to think the closet is an asset.

And that's before we realise how many people don't take seriously non-state persecution seriously – even when the state is complicit or indifferent and unwilling to protect.

I cannot emphasise enough how important this issue is to GBLT people. In many cases, asylum is the only hope and the only chance – and they face not only gross persecution at home, but ridiculous and vile prejudice from those they seek refuge from. The world does precious little to address international homophobia and transphobia – in truth, we do virtually nothing – the least we can do is provide a safe haven for those who have nothing else.