HRC Honors LGBTQ Refugees and Asylum Seekers on World Refugee Day

by Milagros Chirinos

HRC honors this international day of observance by highlighting the resilience and challenges faced by refugees in the U.S. and around the world

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, marked World Refugee Day by highlighting the challenges faced by LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. and around the world and the violence they face, while honoring their strength and resilience.

“On World Refugee Day, we are in solidarity with LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence and conflict from some of the most dangerous places in the world,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “The Trump-Pence administration continues to block people fleeing violence from entering the U.S., while ripping children away from their parents and shamefully mistreating LGBTQ people who are in their care. Today and every day, HRC is united with our partners in sending a resounding message that bigotry does not represent who we are or want to be as a country. We are a proud nation of immigrants, and refugees are welcome here.”

U.S. immigration authorities continue to violate the basic human rights of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Earlier this month, Johana Medina, a 25-year-old transgender woman from El Salvador, died just a short time after being released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. Medina died from severe health complications that went untreated while she was in detention, according to Diversidad Sin Fronteras. This follows on the 2018 death of Roxana Hernández, a transgender woman who died while in the agency’s custody after fleeing violence in Honduras.

A recent investigation released by The Intercept and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reviewed more than 8,400 solitary confinement incidents between 2012 and 2017. It indicates that contrary to ICE policy, segregation was not being used as a last resort in many cases, but as a “default remedy” to isolate hunger strikers, LGBTQ detainees, and people with disabilities. The report detailed the struggles of ICE detainees, including transgender asylum seekers, whose experiences share very similar descriptions of the lasting trauma caused by solitary confinement and segregation.

The Trump-Pence administration also has dramatically cut the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. and enacted policies to make it far more difficult for people fleeing violence and persecution to claim asylum in the U.S. These actions come as the Trump-Pence administration abandons U.S. leadership on human rights around the globe, exacerbating problems for many who face persecution and emboldening those who wish the LGBTQ community harm.

Today, HRC joins Front Line Defenders and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in hosting the 2019 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Five regional winners from Tunisia, Indonesia, Malawi, Russia, and the Dominican Republic, including HRC Global Innovator Rosanna Marzán, will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights for LGBTQ communities around the world, often at great personal risk.

Organized by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in 2000, World Refugee Day is an international day of observance held annually on June 20 to promote global awareness and responsibility for refugees around the world. According to the UNHCR, there are currently 68.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced worldwide due to war, conflict, persecution, natural disasters or extenuating circumstances.  

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.


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