On Jan 31, 2016 Grant News, a CNN affiliate, published this opinion piece.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people have long faced serious persecution by governments, paramilitary organizations and their own families in the Middle East and North Africa. The rise of the Islamic State has produced particularly horrific instances of targeted violence and bloodshed.
Gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender men and women, have been publicly identified as targets for violence. Accusations of being gay have often been used as justification to kill anyone caught in the crosshairs. They have been methodically hunted down through social media and phone logs. When caught, ISIS militants have tied nooses around these men’s necks and dragged them behind trucks, burned them alive, thrown them off buildings and stoned them to death.
Lesbians and bisexual women are no better off. Like too many women in the Middle East, they are often forced or sold into opposite-sex marriages, sexually assaulted and even beaten or starved to death by husbands or families who reject them as a stain on their honor.
They flee and become refugees to save their own lives. US President Donald Trump’s recent announcement is tantamount to a death sentence for many of these refugees.
By slashing the number of refugees allowed into the US from 110,000 to 50,000 and bringing the refugee system to a complete halt for 120 days, President Trump’s refugee plan will cause real harm for real people. And, it appears his administration may no longer prioritize admission for LGBTQ refugees who are escaping extreme violence.
His executive order attempts to offer an olive branch to the LGBTQ community by prohibiting people from entering the United States who would “oppress” Americans based on their sexual orientation. As it happens, people who oppress others are already excludable as refugees under current law, so this portion of the executive order is functionally meaningless.
Further, it inserts a litmus test into the United States refugee admissions program that Vice President Pence and many of President Trump’s current cabinet nominees would not be able to pass. Vice President Pence has never left any question about his animus toward LGBTQ people, from peddling a hateful and damaging “right to discriminate bill” in Indiana last year, to his long-standing opposition to marriage equality.