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LGBTQ asylum seekers face unique challenges

LGBTQ couples may face particular challenges dealing with the U.S. immigration system, especially if they are coming from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Many Indiana residents are concerned about how changes in the federal government’s approach to immigration may affect some of the most vulnerable people in the migrant population. For example, one openly gay couple from Honduras fled to the U.S. to seek asylum after facing harassment, death threats and violent attacks against them in their home country based on their sexual orientation. After months of online threats, they were attacked by gun-wielding gang members, prompting them to flee to the United States.

When they arrived at the southern border, both men filed asylum claims. However, because they were not married to one another, the immigration system could not link them. This meant that their cases would be handled entirely separately, without some of the benefits that married couples can access. Married couples can be separated while their claims for asylum are processed, but a successful married asylum claimant can sponsor a spouse.

In fact, some LGBTQ asylum-seekers’ claims have been disputed by U.S. government officials who claim that there is no proof that they are actually gay or lesbian and thus subjected to anti-gay threats in their home country. Without access to marriage, it is more difficult to prove this kind of asylum claim.

For the couple from Honduras, their case had a happy ending after a long period of separation and delay in which one was held in a harsh immigration detention center. People seeking asylum or dealing with other immigration issues may consult with an immigration law attorney about how best to protect their rights.