US travel ban leaves LGBT refugees in limbo

Istanbul, Turkey (On March 7, 2017 CNN reported) Beaten by his brother because of his sexual orientation while growing up in Iran, Ramtin Zigorat’s greatest wish is to wake up one day and to not have to look over his shoulder.

The 27-year-old gay rights activist, currently living in Turkey, was on the road to a new life in the United States, but his dream was derailed in January after US President

Donald Trump introduced an immigration executive order that included a suspension of refugee arrivals from Iran and six other countries.

A revised version of the order issued on Monday will not rectify his predicament. It exempts Iraq and lawful permanent residents from the ban, but still bars citizens from Iran and five other majority-Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days.

Refugees from those countries are barred for 120 days while officials review already stringent vetting measures.

In Iran, Zigorat’s doctor pushed him towards medication for what was described as his “condition” and recommended sex reassignment surgery, a legal option in a country where being gay is illegal, and often considered the same as being transgender. When he refused to renounce his sexual orientation and LGBT activism, he was arrested and sentenced to death in 2013.

Since escaping to Turkey nearly two years ago, Zigorat, who does not use his given name out of fears for his safety, registered with the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, which offered him resettlement in the US.

“I was happy because I would be going to a country that has laws and rules,” he told CNN.

“No one would discriminate against me because of my sexuality.”

After the introduction of Trump’s travel ban, Zigorat’s second interview for a US visa was abruptly canceled. No reason was given. He says his case is on hold, apparently frozen indefinitely, according to the resettlement agency.

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