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A Look at LGBT Asylum Seekers in the United States

Challenges and Opportunities for Reform

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Just four years after Congress lifted the ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, immigrants entering the country, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno officially recognized that people persecuted on account of their sexual orientation could qualify for asylum in the United States. Since then, the U.S. government has taken steps to improve access to the asylum system for LGBT people fleeing persecution and—in his Presidential Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons—President Barack Obama affirmed the U.S. asylum and refugee program’s role in protecting vulnerable LGBT people and called on the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to enhance their efforts to ensure that LGBT people have equal access to protection.

Unfortunately, since the U.S. government does not collect data on sexual orientation or gender identity in its protection systems, we do not know how well existing efforts have worked or what more must be done to ensure that LGBT asylum seekers can access the protection they need.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a Pride Month/World Refugee Day discussion of new data on LGBT asylum seekers, the gaps in knowledge about how LGBT people are treated in our asylum system, the challenges LGBT people face seeking asylum in the United States, and what can be done to protect them from persecution at home.