Wednesday, July 18, 2007

An Important Task For Libertarians: Fighting For LGBTQ Refugees

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has issued a strongly-worded press release describing the conditions that gay and lesbian people in Iran face.

Despite a widely publicized outcry two years ago when Iranian authorities executed two young men in the northeastern city of Mashhed, the government continues to target, arrest, prosecute, and execute individuals under its sodomy law. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) condemns Iran’s violations of human rights law and asks that human rights groups around the world work to support those targeted by the government.


In May 2007, the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) was the first to report that the police forces in the city of Esfahan had raided a birthday party and arrested more than 80 people. The police apparently suspected that the attendees were gay and were possibly engaged in sodomy, though nor proof of either has been established. Later, police unconditionally released most of those arrested, but required substantial bail for 17 of the arrestees. A judge told the families of those set free on bail that they would be tried on sodomy charges. Based on IRQO’s reports and IGLHRC’s investigation, some of the detainees were severely tortured while in custody. In the last two years, IGLHRC has worked with IRQO to find refuge for a number of gay Iranians forced to leave their country and who have applied for refugee status, many of whom faced arbitrary arrests, police brutality and even lashings for being gay.

Outright Libertarians joins in IGLHRC's call for assistance for our LGBTQ compatriots around the globe who face torture, prison and even execution simply for being gay. IGLHRC recommends the following actions:

1- Support Iranian LGBT groups, such as Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO). IRQO is a volunteer-based group of Iranian activists who try to reach out to LGBT population in Iran through publication of monthly magazines, phone counseling, and podcasts, educating the Western media about the situation in Iran, and helping Iranian LGBT asylum seekers outside the country. Find out more about IRQO by visiting their website:

2- Ask your own government to take action in one of the following ways: a) Send a letter to your government’s foreign ministry recounting these incidents and asking them to expressly call on the Iranian government to abide by its international treaty obligations by halting the abuse and prosecution of people who are or are perceived to be LGBT. b) Ask that your government’s immigration service adopt policies to provide refuge to individuals who fear persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity. As with all refugees, housing, food, and financial resources are needed to sustain them during the often lengthy process of establishing asylum or other legal status.

We believe that US lobbying of Iran would not be effective. We also believe that a Libertarian position on immigration reform would eliminate the need for much of the housing, food and financial resources that ILGA deems necessary as a result of lengthy big-government bureaucratic processes.

Outright calls for a compassionate, apolitical asylum system that welcomes refugees who are persecuted based on their sexual orientation as full participants in American society, with the right to find employment, enter into business, and support themselves immediately after arrival -- without lengthy government-imposed delays. In short, refugees should quickly receive a green card, and all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. We also encourage all Americans to contribute their own resources, including financial donations, space, and legal aid, to individuals from Iran and similar places where being gay can result in human rights abuses.

Some have inquired as to why we are "such sticklers" on the question of immigration equality. The answer is simple: with literally thousands of people facing death, we cannot afford to "compromise" on such a key issue. The time for action is now.

We continue to affirm that all people have the right to live and love freely, as they choose, and we call upon the US government to make good on that most fundamental of a human right by ending its slam-door policy.

The steps we take as a country today will determine whether our society's 50-year-old vow of "never again" was a commitment, or just an empty slogan.