Gay Refugees Look Toward US

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America may not be perfect, we Yankee fags have it a whole lot better than some others.

Consider Gramoz Prestreshi, whom you see above. The 22-year old fled Kosovo after being beaten by anti-gay thugs, ridiculed by police and hospital workers and disowned by his family. With no other recourse, Prestreshi moved to the United States, where he applied for – and won – asylum.

Prestreshi’s hardly alone. Each year, countless queers come to the States looking for a little pro-homo relief. Unfortunately, not everyone’s as lucky as Prestreshi. Men and women must not only prove they were harassed for being gay, but have to prove that they’re gay in the first place.

Pamela Constable writes for The Washington Post:

One reason is that applicants face multiple burdens of proof. They must demonstrate that they were abused or harassed by authorities, not merely by angry relatives or drunken hooligans, or that the authorities failed to protect them. They must also prove that they were abused because they are homosexual — and thus prove that they are, in fact, gay.

Even if a person can, in fact, prove their faggotry, judges aren’t always so keen on granting asylum.

Many of you may recall a story from January, in which we told you about a 38-year old Mexican man named Jorge Soto Vega. Vega first applied for asylum in 2003, but a judge told him he would be safe in the closet: “It would not be obvious that he was homosexual unless he made it obvious himself.” That judge later changed his mind and granted Vega asylum.

Constable also writes that its more difficult for people from dictatorial nations to receive asylum:

Ironically, experts said, it might be harder for homosexuals to win asylum claims on grounds of sexual orientation if they come from countries with dictatorial governments that repress a variety of people. Victoria Neilson, legal director of a private New York agency called Immigration Equality, said that seeking asylum from a country with a great deal of violence might work against a gay applicant.

“We have cases from all over the world, but sometimes people who come from the scariest countries have the hardest time proving their case,” said Neilson, whose office currently represents asylum seekers from 26 countries including Albania, Indonesia, Jamaica, Turkmenistan and Zimbabwe. “If you come from Iraq, where nobody feels safe, it is hard to show why you would be singled out,” she said.

While that may be true, receiving asylum’s definitely easier now than it was about fifteen years ago. First of all, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 banned gay immigrants. Though overturned in 1991, it wasn’t until 1994, when Janet Reno took a stand for a gay Cuban, that queer refugees found a home in America.

Unfortunately, not all the gays will get what they want – and, in fact, need.