Trump’s “shithole” Comment Impacts LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

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Trump’s “shithole” Comment Impacts LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

on being a Catholic lesbian activist in Uganda, where LGBTQI people have no legal protections, and frequently suffer violence and imprisonment. Ssenfuka is a plaintiff in “Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively.” Lively, a white racist, homophobic Pentecostal pastor of Springfield, Massachusetts, is accused of persecuting LGBTQI people abroad, resulting in the introduction of an Anti-Homosexuality Bill he helped engineer in Uganda, which was prosecuted as a crime against humanity under international law.

Throughout the African continent, there are stories of homophobic bullying, trans bashing, and every kind of abuse of its LGBTQ population. However, the one country you don’t expect to hear anti- LGBTQ rhetoric and human rights abuses from is South Africa. South Africa is the first African country to support openly LGBTQ civil rights. But South Africa has a problem with its LGBTQ population, especially its lesbians. South Africa's method to remedy the problem with lesbians is “corrective rape.”

On any given day in South Africa, lesbians are twice as likely to be sexually molested, raped, gang-raped than heterosexual women. A reported estimate of at least 500 lesbians are victims of “corrective rape” per year. And in Western Cape, a province in the south west of South Africa, a report put out by the Triangle Project in 2008 stated that as many as 86 percent of its lesbian population live in fear of being raped.

And, in Haiti, a country that is predominately Roman Catholic homosexuality is condemned. Among Haiti’s LGBTQ middle and profession classes they find ways to socialize out of the public “gaydar” and with impunity. However, for the poorer classes of LGBTQ Haitians who live, work and socialize in the densely populated and impoverished capitol city of Port-au-Prince and its countryside, discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender expressions is commonplace. The 2002 documentary “ Des Hommes et Dieux (Of Men and Gods)” by anthropologist Anne Lescot exposed the daily struggles of Haitian transwomen. Blondine in the film said, “When people insult me because I wear a dress I am not ashamed of how I am. Masisis (gay males) can’t walk down the street in a wig and dress.”

Trump’s administration may very well make it difficult for Africans and Haitians to come to the U.S. But, he cannot stop asylum seekers. Legally, it is a universal human right to seek asylum, and the U.S has been offering asylum to LGBTQ people from around the world since 1994. And, morally, governments have an obligation to come to the aid of those fleeing persecution, a minimum standard any decent government recognizes.

But as much as Trump's "shithole" comments didn't surprise me, any effort by his administration to halt LGBTQ asylum seekers from black nations would shock me even less.