Since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the U.S., we have witnessed waves of xenophobia, Islamophobia and homophobia wash over America. But we refuse to stay silent. In this video, members of the AsylumConnect team share their thoughts on why it is important to value diversity and protect the rights of LGBTQ asylum seekers and refugees.
On March 25th, 2017, Katie Sgarro, AsylumConnect Co-Founder & President, travelled to Cambridge, MA to pitch AsylumConnect as a finalist for the 2017 Harvard Social Enterprise Conference (SECON) Pitch Competition.
As Co-Founder and President of AsylumConnect, I can attest to asylum seekers’ and refugees’ resilience and heroism. They deserve to be in this country. They are an invaluable asset to the U.S. - not a danger.
Trump’s recently signed executive order for “extreme vetting” of refugees flies in the face of everything our nation stands for. It jeopardizes the lives of innocent human beings. This ban is a disaster for our nation, for the global community, and for justice. Many refugees don't have months.
On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, the world watched as Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States. I remember watching the election results with a group of friends with many different identities based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nation of origin, etc. I worried how they as well as myself would feel represented in federal politics beginning next year.
In the sphere of LGBTQ rights, our cause for concern is due to Trump’s decision not to pledge support for the Equality Act — a bill that calls for banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the past, Trump has also made statements disfavoring the historic Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
At AsylumConnect, our stance on the election of Trump and the future of LGBTQ rights is as follows:
We sincerely believe in using this recent presidential election to fuel our cause even further and to make sure that our organization serves as a reliable and high-quality resource for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. We are committed to looking forward to the future and ensuring protection and equality for ALL.
Our response to this election is that the niche we fill is more important than ever. Amongst calls to limit and even ban asylum seekers from entering the United States, we are working to change the existing rhetoric through improving and scaling the AsylumConnect catalog. As the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) stated in their video entitled “Obama & Clinton: Moving Equality Forward”: “All of our progress over the past 8 years is on the line in this election.” In relation to issues of immigration, our cause for concern stems from limitations placed on asylum seekers. For example, Out Magazine released the following statement: “In addition to putting in jeopardy legal unions for bi-national couples, Trump's harsh anti-immigration stance, with unspecified plans to ban all Muslims from entering the country and shut down borders, may prevent at-risk LGBT asylum seekers from finding refuge in the U.S.” Therefore, our work to create a centralized and accessible database for LGBTQ asylum seekers is vital.
To put it simply: we have work to do. We will continue fighting for LGBTQ rights and protection of LGBTQ asylum seekers. Your support is more critical than ever right now. Join AsylumConnect in the campaign to protect LGBTQ asylum seekers and their right to be in this country. Please consider donating to our cause today: http://www.asylumconnect.org/donate/.
We encourage you to also consider joining our passionate team: http://www.asylumconnect.org/join-our-team/.
Thank you for your continued support of AsylumConnect and our cause. We are ready to take on this challenge and to continue our fight.
Here at AsylumConnect, we are dedicated towards highlighting progress being made both locally and around the world. In this segment, we focus on the African Union and 2016 as the “African Year of Human Rights.”
The African Union was established in 1999 in order to promote further integration of the African Continent and make meaningful strides towards social, economic, and political reform.
This year places special importance on the idea of “coming together.” The issue of LGBTQ+ rights significantly contributes to this theme. As it currently stands, rights protecting individuals that identify as LGBTQ+ are limited. For example, several countries such as Uganda and Nigeria have out-lawed same-sex relationships and imposed anti-gay laws. It is evident that stronger protections and awareness of LGTBQ+ issues are imperative.
The idea of “coming together” is embodied in the message of human rights. Although the African Union recognized the importance of LGBTQ+ rights, concrete actions towards achieving equality are still necessary. I believe one way forward is for the African Union to release a statement on LGBTQ+ issues and identify clear action steps that must be taken. One of the areas that I believe should have more focus is medical treatment for LGBTQ+ individuals. In Africa, stigma and discrimination are rampant. This leads to a wide variety of health problems that often go untreated.
The LGBTQ+ community in Africa is often forced to go into hiding due to severe threats and legal punishment. Mental health often becomes an even greater issue with this type of treatment.
I believe collaboration and unity need to be more heavily emphasized in order for the African Union to be truly successful in its dedication towards human rights. As of now, many countries are in disagreement over LGBTQ+ issues. For instance, Botswana, Kenya, and Zambia pledged to uphold basic freedoms for marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ+ community in Africa. I believe one way to accomplish this is through strengthening unity among legal systems and institutions in the African Union.
I am excited to see this commitment from the African Union as LGBTQ+ stigma is a major barrier. By keeping this conversation at the forefront, I believe the African Union will be able to succeed in uniting the African Continent and upholding basic rights.
We look forward to keeping up with the progress happening in Africa! Many thanks to Olive Musoni, AsylumConnect volunteer translator and African correspondent, for the pictures.
Be sure to look out for future blog posts highlighting members of the AsylumConnect team and their stories. Thank you for your support!
My summer internship began with hearing from the Democratic LGBT Caucus on Capitol Hill. I heard from representatives such as John Lewis (D-GA) and Mark Takano (D-CA). In the wake of the Orlando attacks, our country has been faced with reexamining its core values. Issues such as gun control and equality are at the forefront of political debates. The Orlando shooting serves as a painful reminder of the work that still needs to be done in our country especially in regards to LGBTQ+ issues. However, progress has been made. As of July 2016, California became a leading state in textbook reform. Public school students in the state will now directly learn about LGBTQ history and prominent figures within the movement. Additionally, the United Methodist Church just elected its first openly gay bishop in June 2016. These historical changes remind us that progress can be made.
In the Dominican Republic, calls for better treatment of LGBTQ individuals and communities increased after Orlando. In fact, the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic sparked conversation on this topic given his status as an openly gay man and advocate for the LGBTQ community. His accomplishments include developing the country’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce and helping activists organize LGBT campaigns.
At AsylumConnect, our mission is to connect LGBTQ asylum seekers with fundamental human needs resources upon their arrival in the United States. We will continue striving towards this mission and ensure we are protecting all asylum seekers. We must stand together as a community and continue to fight for fair treatment.
We created a Visibility Video to raise awareness for LGBTQ equality and justice following the Orlando massacre. Check it out below and thank you for your support!
On October 20th, the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) hosted a webinar with AsylumConnect on LGBTQ Asylum and the refugee crisis.
The day I learned about AsylumConnect (or “AsCo” as I call it) was the day my life changed for the better.
On October 20th, between 12-2pm, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO)will be hosting an LGBTQI Asylum Seeker & Refugee Event at the United Nations Church Center (Address: E 44th St, New York, NY 1007).
The mission of the AsylumConnect global peace campaign is to motivate individuals from around the world to passionately advocate for peaceful communities for all people. The AsylumConnect campaign aims to activate agents of peacekeeping through providing a platform for interactive discussions on today's most pressing international news topics.
This past week, as the winner of the Millennium Campus Conference’s (MCC15) Millennium Peace Prize, Co-founder Katie launched a global campaign at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. She presented the "#AsylumConnect Campaign: In Pursuit of Happiness, Freedom, and Safety" to a panel of mentors with expertise in global development as well as to over 450 student leaders from 50 countries around the world.
This blog will serve as a platform for AsylumConnect team members, supporters, and others to express their opinions on our organization and cause. We will also use this space to post relevant outside content related to seeking asylum in the U.S., global LGBTQ rights, and immigration-related issues. Lastly, project updates and beneficiaries' testimonials will be available on this page.