LGBT Asylum Seekers Face Extra Anxiety Under President Trump’s Travel Ban

On Feb 8, 2017 Yahoo News reported: Ever since his sister heard him talking in his sleep in their bedroom in Iran, Ali K. tried to stay awake at night. “Since that night, I was so afraid, I could not sleep,” he said of his childhood. “Because what if I said aloud what I feel?”

In third grade Ali fell in love with an older boy at school, but never spoke to him. Several years later, he saw reports that two people had been hung for homosexuality. Eventually, the conflict between who he was and what his country allowed him to be became too much, and Ali says he decided to kill himself by walking into traffic on a busy road. He stood on the curb for hours but never stepped into the street. His mother was having heart problems, and he says he feared the news of his death would kill her. (TIME agreed to identify Ali by his first name in order to protect his family in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.) “In Iran, all my life I was afraid,” Ali, now 30, said in a phone interview. “I realized people like me are not allowed to exist.”

Now, after more than seven years in America, Ali fears he could be forced to return to a country that could kill him for his sexuality. He is one of many LGBT immigrants from the seven majority-Muslim nations affected by President Trump’s Jan. 17 executive order barring travelers from Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days, and refugees from Syria indefinitely. The fate of Trump’s order is uncertain after a federal appeals court ruled Sunday to uphold a temporary stay on the ban. A three-judge panel from U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard arguments Tuesday and is expected to issue a ruling this week. Whatever the outcome, an appeal to the Supreme Court is likely.

The immigration order has thrown countless lives into tumult, but for LGBT residents from countries where homosexuality is criminalized, the fear is especially acute.

It is a violation of international law to send a person back to a nation where they face persecution.

Read more at LGBT Asylum Seekers Face Extra Anxiety Under President Trump’s Travel Ban

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