Immigration Equality Praises Obama Administration's Call to Protect LGBT Human Rights Abroad

Dec 06, 2011, 15:21 ET from Immigration Equality

Group Says Memo "ensures that the federal government will continue to be a key partner in Immigration Equality's efforts" to assist those fleeing persecution from abroad

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Immigration Equality, a national organization advancing equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals, praised new guidance issued today by the Obama Administration on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people abroad.  The organization specifically praised the Administration's call for U.S. agencies to "protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers" who flee anti-LGBT persecution.  Through a memorandum, and a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Administration sent a strong message that it views LGBT rights as human rights.   Speaking in Geneva, Secretary Clinton boldly proclaimed, "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

Immigration Equality is the nation's largest provider of legal counsel to LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers, and the expert trainer on sexual orientation and gender identity claims for the Department of Homeland Security's asylum and refugee protection officers.  In 2011 alone, Immigration Equality has already won nearly 100 asylum cases, with 258 cases pending.  At the invitation of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Equality has trained more than 100 officers on LGBT asylum and refugee issues.  Today's Presidential Memorandum makes clear that those training programs are a key part of its plan, noting that government agencies "shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively address the protection of LGBT refugee and asylum seekers . . ."

"Today the administration committed its muscle to helping provide a safe haven for LGBT people who face violence, persecution and abuse in their home countries," said Victoria Neilson, the group's legal director.  "Immigration Equality hears from more than 1,000 LGBT people a year who are fleeing persecution.  Many face daunting challenges in escaping their home country, let alone reaching the shores of the United States. By instructing foreign service officers to offer all available assistance to those who seek their help, the White House is extending a helping hand to some of the world's most vulnerable individuals."

Immigration Equality is a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals. For more information, visit


SOURCE Immigration Equality