International: New Online Library Documents LGBT Human Rights Abuses Worldwide

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For Immediate Release October 30, 2006

Media Contact: Geoffrey Knox 212-229-0540; 917-414-1749

(New York City) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) announced today the launch of a new online library that will provide support to worldwide claims for political asylum made by people who fear persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV/AIDS status. The online library documents human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people living with HIV/AIDS in countries around the world. It is the most complete documentation resource of its kind in the world. The information now available online will enable asylum seekers or their legal advocates to quickly provide immigration authorities with proof of human rights abuses in their country of origin.

Working in partnership with asylumlaw.org, IGLHRC’s Asylum Documentation Program (ADP) has made its vast store of documentation available free and online to meet the urgent needs of thousands of asylum seekers and their attorneys. The information is available by going to http://www.iglhrc.org/site/iglhrc/section.php?id=20. This country condition documentation library is organized by individual “country packets.” There are 144 different country packets that chart for each country various types of documentation, which may include court decisions, human rights declarations related to sexual minorities, as well as expert opinions, newspaper articles, and reports on human right conditions for LGBT and HIV-positive people.

“We get nearly 40 requests a week from people who call and need information to support their claims,” said Dusty Aráujo, Asylum Documentation Program Coordinator at IGLHRC. “By having our country packets online, it will be easier and more efficient to get the documentation out quickly to asylum seekers. When people are forced to flee a country, they take very little with them and usually not the information that shows how or why they were persecuted. The documentation we provide can clarify or confirm why they’re seeking asylum and the country packet can become evidence in their cases. While a person’s story can be compelling, often it is documents that prove a case.”

A former asylum seeker, Rafael Dominguez, shared his experience with IGLHRC, saying:

Applying for asylum is a very scary, painful, and emotional process. I had such a relief when I came across the Asylum Documentation Program at IGLHRC: it changed my outlook and the possibilities of success on my asylum claim. It was not enough having my story of why I was applying for asylum; I needed to provide reliable information about how the LGBT community in Mexico is being discriminated against. For one person to engage in that kind of research can be impossible: the window time to prepare and submit the documentation to the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] is very short…. Thanks to IGLHRC I was able to corroborate my claims and build a strong case for my asylum claim. In other circumstances, I would not have had the same success. I was granted asylum a year ago.

IGLHRC’s country conditions library began in 1990 and has assisted over 6,600 people worldwide. ADP’s information is critical not only to asylum seekers and their legal representatives, but also to researchers, academics, and journalists investigating persecution of LGBT people and those living with HIV/AIDS around the world.

Every day in countries throughout the world, the fundamental rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV/AIDS are violated. These abuses include: murder, incarceration, forced psychiatric "treatment," torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, denial of the freedoms of association, self-expression, press and movement, denial of the right to seek refuge/asylum, immigration restrictions, forced marriage, the revocation of parental rights and numerous other forms of discrimination.

In addition to the country packets, the Asylum Documentation Program’s online library offers three thematic packets that may compliment a particular case on different topics. Thematic Packets include:

Islamic World Country Packet: This packet illustrates the difficult juncture between Islam and homosexuality and the impact it may have on LGBT people and those living with HIV/AIDS in different countries.

Lesbian Issues Packet: This packet was created to further support the asylum claims of lesbians, who because they are women, may face other types of issues not shared with homosexual men.

Transgender Issues Packet: This packet has been put together to assist immigration attorneys and asylum seekers in front of an immigration judge or immigration authority who may be unfamiliar with transgender issues.

“We are tremendously excited about the new IGLHRC project,” said David Berten, president of asylumlaw.org, a non-profit dedicated to using the Internet to help lawyers and other accredited representatives worldwide prepare the best asylum cases they can. “IGLHRC’s Asylum Documentation Program has one of the most extensive collection of documents in the world relating to the persecution of sexual minorities. The ready availability of these documents on the Internet will help thousands of asylum seekers and their attorneys today and for years to come.”

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is the only human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or murder because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists on the ground in countries around the world, by monitoring and documenting abuses, by engaging offending governments, and by educating international human rights officials. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in San Francisco and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org.
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