Could a gay person from the US seek asylum?
December 9, 2004 9:12 AM   Subscribe

This got me to thinking: Could a gay person/couple from the US seek asylum in another country (Canada, Sweden, etc) due to persecution/lack of civil liberties/some other reason?
posted by j to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Asylum generally covers only people who have a legitimate fear for their physical safety, not just "they don't like me". So, no, though I suppose it's possible that some country somewhere has a much looser threshold.
posted by mkultra at 9:19 AM on December 9, 2004

what mkultra said. You have to be able to demonstrate that you are being persecuted by and/or in mortal danger from the government or ruling body of your home country. Just discriminated against isn't enough.
posted by widdershins at 9:32 AM on December 9, 2004

Well, you can always *seek* it. But in the vast scheme of persecution, the practicalities of no-gay-marriage in the US -- you can't import your foreign sweetie, you might have to pay more taxes, you have limited access to death benefits, it's hard to get the hospital to listen to your partner about your care -- just don't compare to threats of imprisonment, torture, or murder, even though they're certainly important in real life.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:33 AM on December 9, 2004

It would have to get much worse before any other country would let us in, asylumwise (and God forbid). If anything like laws forbidding us from employment in government, etc, owning property, going to school, or things like that, were passed, then it'd be another story. (see Germany in the 30s)

Unfortunately, discrimination alone isn't enough.
posted by amberglow at 9:45 AM on December 9, 2004

Actually, there are already laws either on the books or in process in the US that do provide for that sort of discrimination. Homosexuals may already be fired by the government for no reason other than they are gay, and laws in process against gay marriage are loosely worded enough to void contracts between gays and heterosexuals. I don't know if that's enough for a refugee claim but it could be in specific cases.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:14 AM on December 9, 2004

Heh. I know a gay guy who got political asylum IN the the US. He comes from Pakistan and could actually be killed for his sexual orientation there. I think this is the kind of thing that generally warrants asylum. Like human rights violations or such. But I don't really know.
posted by scarabic at 10:21 AM on December 9, 2004

It does happen . I think it would have to be a pretty bad situation though. Life threatening probably.
There was some discussion of this in the UK media a few months ago in relation to gay asylum seekers from Jamaica. I remember seeing a piece on the news about a gay woman from Jamaica who was seeking asylum in Britain after she was told to leave the country or be killed, by her family. I think she was more or less resigned to having her application declined. Of course it depends on the policy of the country in which asylum is being sought.
posted by isthisthingon at 10:57 AM on December 9, 2004

I believe hundreds of thousands of Cuban homosexuals have been given some form of U.S. asylum over the past three or four decades.

But speaking of gays forbidden from government employment, see Eliminationist watch.
posted by glibhamdreck at 11:04 AM on December 9, 2004

There is an American soldier seeking refugee status in Canada due to the US government not acknowledging his conscience Objector claim. Wildly unlikely to be successful but if he prevails I could see a case made for gay marriage seekers.
posted by Mitheral at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2004

Interestingly, Israel grants refugee status to some persecuted gay Palestinians.
posted by equipoise at 2:06 PM on December 9, 2004

As far as being American and seeking asylum in Canada? I don't think they would allow it but not completely sure. There were over 300 Americans in 2003 who came here seeking asylum for everything from medical marijuana, military desertion and fear of the Patriot Act. None of the claims were granted. High probability it wouldn't be granted since trying to argue your being persecuted by one of Canada's closest allies would be next to impossible let alone trying to argue a similar point from someone say in Iran.
posted by squeak at 10:22 PM on December 9, 2004

Do homosexuals really have it better in Canada than they do in Massachusetts, which is unfortunately still part of the US? Gays can't marry in Sweden, but they can in Massachusetts. This question is pretty assinine, really. The treatment of minorities differs pretty wildly from state to state.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:14 AM on December 10, 2004

There is an American soldier seeking refugee status in Canada due to the US government not acknowledging his conscience Objector claim.

Not to derail the thread, but the problem for him is he was not drafted, he volunteered. So he really can't say he say he is being persecuted.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:15 PM on December 10, 2004

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