back to top
Community

Welcoming Passengers At US International Arrival Gates? You Miss People You Do Not Know!

Iranian queer refugees granted asylum in the USA are now trapped in Turkey for at least another 4 months.

Posted on
Arash would leave Turkey with these baggages to the US to start a new life.

Arash would leave Turkey with these baggages to the US to start a new life.

Queer refugees from the muslim countries are running away from terror in their homelands and seeking safety in a new land, hearing President Trump saying “This is about terror and keeping our country safe”.

Queer refugees from the muslim countries are running away from terror in their homelands and seeking safety in a new land, hearing President Trump saying “This is about terror and keeping our country safe”.

Tonight, California could have been welcoming Arash and Jacob, two Iranian queer refugees to their new home. Unfortunately these are only two of many, whose flights scheduled for January 30th were cancelled several days before departure and needless to say, due to President Trump’s order on refugee ban.

The flight Arash’s name was removed from, would put an end to a “nightmare” of a 32 year old gay man born in Iran. Arash used to work as a computer engineer in his hometown Shiraz and had no plans to leave Iran any time soon. In November 2014, his partner’s father accidentally found out about their relationship. He not only “promised to kill” Arash, but also said he would file a report with the Police. The Iranian law is very clear about “sodomy”. The punishment goes up to capital penalty and execution in public. Although these executions have not been practiced lately, same sex sexual relationships remain criminalized by law. Today, after 27 months of patience and dealing with all sorts of problems one gay refugee in Turkey might face, just a couple of days before his flight to his new home, the newly elected president, trapped him in a small low-cost hostel in Istanbul with no indication for what future might bring. He finally decided he had to go back to Denizli and figure things out.

Jacob holding a paper reading " No to Homophobia, No to Transphobia"

Jacob holding a paper reading " No to Homophobia, No to Transphobia"

Jacob, the 31 year old transsexual refugee who had his flight on January 24th cancelled with “no given reason” and rescheduled for January 30th, started to pack only last Wednesday. His sponsor in California also received a call, and this made the flight to LA real. This was really happening! He could finally start his gender-reassignment process. In fact, Jacob who also identifies himself as a pansexual had obtained his sex-change authorization just a month before he was forced to leave Iran. Like many asylum seekers, he also left Tehran in a rush, but not because of his sexuality, nor because he comes from a christian family, but because he used to advocate for LGBT rights in Iran. Trump’s order is affecting all Iranians, regardless of their religion, sexuality, or political opinion, even though religious minorities are considered a priority in granting asylum.

With all the overwhelming news coming from the United States, Jacob does not know when he can finally start his treatments. “At first I thought I could start my process in Turkey, then I realized they do not accept my Iranian authorization here. It would take some 3 years to get the Turkish authorizations for the hormone-therapy and sex-change. I would not stay here that long”.

He had it all sorted when he was surprised by the call informing him his flight was cancelled. The gas and electricity were caught, the house was empty and the luggages were ready. He had said goodbye to all his friends in Eskisehir, where he lives since 32 months now.

One can imagine the deception and anxiety Iranian refugees referred to US might feel, but they are not the only ones. “People who called me from ICMC (the International Catholic Migration Commission and Resettlement Support Center) and IMO (the International Organization for Migration) were really upset to tell me my flight was cancelled. They apologized several times. They both told me they did not know what was going to happen next” Jacob says “It was not their fault, but the situation is such that they also feel so bad. They were working during the weekend”.

Jacob had to call back his landlord to ask if he could rent the apartment for another 4 months.

After Trump’s order on refugee ban, no one really knew what it meant in practice. The order became more and more clear for those holding green cards or visas or those refugees already arrived into the American territory. Iranian refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey had still no idea what “120 days” would mean to them. Today, they found out all the interviews and flights, including medical checks are cancelled for the next 4 months. Is the US closing its door to all refugees? Is there going to be more detailed interviews, meaning a longer process which equals more time trapped in Turkey? One thing is sure, nothing will change during the next 120 days.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister tweet in reaction to Trump’s order read “ To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength”.

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

@JustinTrudeau why u dnt ask Canadian emb. in Ankara to process LGBT persecuted refugees & end the long waiting time? Do u knw abt it at all

Canada and the United States are the only countries UNHCR office in Turkey refers the queer refugees to be resettled in. The doors of both countries seem to be closed for now . Iranian queer refugees want their voices be heard by the Canadians and Americans. They could have been among those whose arrival would be celebrated, but they are banned from departure, for now. Many are wondering if the US will accept refugees at all.

US international airports have turned into scenes of protests and demonstrations against Trump’s immigration order and support for those who have to go through interrogations. Lawyers are assisting those in danger of deportation. The heartwarming images from US airports are shared on social media and people are following the news very closely.