LGBT

This Gay Couple Are Worried Trump's Refugee And Immigration Ban Will Keep Them Apart

Paul Harrison lives in Texas but travels frequently to visit his fiancé in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal.

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When Paul Harrison leaves his home in Texas to visit his fiancé, every moment they have together is precious. Not only because they are going on two years into a long-distance relationship, but because Harrison's fiancé lives in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by law.

A video featuring the couple, released by HRC today, shares their story and the couple's concern about how President Trump's latest refugee and travel executive order will impact their wedding plans.

View this video on YouTube

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Harrison's fiancé, whose identity is not revealed in the video to protect his identity, is due to arrive in the United States in less than three months.

With Trump's revised executive order taking effect on March 16, the couple are fighting to remain optimistic. The order states that people from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen who are outside the US and don’t have a valid visa “are not eligible to travel” to the US for 90 days.

Harrison and his fiancé have been in touch every day since they met in 2015. "One thing led to another and I decided to ask him if he would marry me," Harrison explains in the video. "No more flying 7,000 miles to see each other."

Harrison told BuzzFeed News that together they are planning a small, private wedding with a big reception to follow. "Lots of Persian food, music, dancing — a huge celebration of our love and victory," he said. After they get married, they plan to live in Texas, so his fiancé can work on his English and find work in the oil engineering field.

"We are going to start the green card process immediately upon his arrival," Harrison added.

Harrison and his fiancé travel to Turkey as often as they can to be together in a relatively safe environment. In the video, Harrison describes one visit when the two traveled together to Istanbul where they could finally show affection for one another in public — something his fiancé could never do in Iran.

HRC

"One of the first things he wanted to do was kiss me in public, he didn't care who was watching," Harrison says in the video.

"Because I am gay there is a lot of pressure on me," Harrison's fiancé told BuzzFeed News. "Gay people cannot have self-confidence. In Iran, you must not let people know you are gay because it will affect you all your life."

Harrison added that his fiancé has been able to come out to two very close male friends in Iran. "He was very relieved that neither one of them killed him," he said. "He was just joking, but at the same time, it was a huge confession for him to make. Gays and lesbians simply cannot have any kind of good life in Iran."

When Harrison first heard about the executive order, and realized what it could mean for his relationship, he immediately felt sick to his stomach.

HRC

"Initially I became sick to my stomach. The nausea passed and I became angry and defiant. My fiancé was just in disbelief and denial that this could be happening," Harrison remembered. "The 2.0 version of the ban still makes me feel very uneasy. I feel that Muslims are being targeted in general, and Iranians in particular."

The couple are not alone in their fight — many LGBT refugees and other LGBT people hoping to immigrate to the US are finding their dreams and hopes for the future dashed due to the immigration order.

Harrison is currently abroad working to obtain a visa for his fiancé. "These past few weeks have been extremely difficult for us but our love for each other and our determination to be together has only grown stronger," he said.

HRC

Harrison's fiancé remains hopeful they will be able to be legally and permanently reunited. "I have a good feeling because I want to be with [my fiancé] and I want to go and start new life together."

Sarah Karlan is the Deputy LGBT Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Sarah Karlan at sarah.karlan@buzzfeed.com.

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