ORAM Urges U.S. Government to Safeguard 500 Slots for LGBTI Refugees

ORAM Urges U.S. Government to Safeguard 500 Slots for LGBTI Refugees

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Syrian refugees and migrants along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos on Sept. 1, 2015. Photo: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Syrian refugees and migrants along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos on Sept. 1, 2015. Photo: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Days before the October 1 start of the 2016 Fiscal Year where President Barack Obama recently announced the United States would hold 10,000 additional spaces for Syrian refugees, the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM) launched a petition urging the U.S. government to safeguard 500 of those 10,000 slots for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) refugees.

ORAM is an international organization devoted to capacity-building and advocacy on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, including those fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“LGBTI refugees, among the world’s extremely vulnerable populations, face the direst circumstances in a situation of nightmarish proportions,” said Neil Grungras, executive director of ORAM. “Those who succeed in escaping the infernos of Syria and Iraq find impossible survival challenges in surrounding countries. A minor five percent of the 10,000 additional slots would make an enormous impact on the lives of LGBTI Syrian refugees desperately attempting to, against all odds, be resettled to safety.”

Subhi Nahas, gay Syrian refugee and LGBTI advocate at the United Nations Security Council where he spoke at the first-ever LGBT Arria on Aug. 24. Photo: Michelle Nichols
Subhi Nahas, gay Syrian refugee and LGBTI advocate at the United Nations Security Council where he spoke at the first-ever LGBT Arria on Aug. 24, 2015. Photo: Michelle Nichols

The petition reads: “LGBTI people are targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremists. ISIS has carried out 30 brutal public executions of suspected LGBTI people videotaped, photographed and distributed via the internet. No one knows how many have died silently. Thousands more are living in daily terror of being smoked out and murdered.”

The full text of the petition, as well as the petition letter to U.S. officials, can be viewed here.

“The refugee system is failing LGBTI people dismally. We know what has to be done to save these precious lives. The 11th hour has passed,” said Grungras. “Saving these lives and restoring their dignity is the right thing to do and the time to act is now.”

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