WASHINGTON – Today, the anti-equality majority in the U.S. House narrowly advanced HR 2, the so-called “Secure the Border” Act, a Republican-led bill designed to limit entry opportunities for asylum seekers migrating to the U.S., with devastating implications for LGBTQ+ individuals fleeing fatal violence and persecution in their home countries. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently joined a chorus of 143 organizations in a statement urging members of Congress to vote ‘no’ on the legislation.
In addition to facing gaps in basic services during displacement, LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are often systemically targeted for kidnapping, extortion, rape, and other violence. Under Title 42 and Remain in Mexico - policies that have undermined access to asylum - human rights organizations have documented heightened threats against LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. Examples include:
In May 2021, a Honduran transgender woman was kidnapped and raped while waiting in for U.S. asylum processing to resume. She escaped her kidnappers, but sustained significant injuries.
A gay Central American man who’d fled his home country was kidnapped and trafficked for months around Mexico, where he was beaten, assaulted, and forced to perform sex acts.
Blocked from seeking asylum due to Title 42, a transgender Honduran man and his girlfriend were assaulted in Mexico “by guys who targeted them for their queerness and gender expression.” The assailants reportedly asked the couple “who is the man and who is the woman?” and threatened that they were “going to teach them how to be women.”
In addition to the dismantling of the U.S. asylum system, HR 2 would also limit funding for certain programs and the government’s partnerships with non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian services. It would also increase detention of asylum seekers, eliminate a U.S.-funded legal assistance program for asylum seekers, and expedite border wall construction.
Today’s vote also comes as other countries, such as Uganda, inch closer toward passing laws that target LGBTQ+ individuals, criminalizing same-sex relations and even imposing the death penalty in some cases.
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