There was only one way Danial could think of to get out of Iran: He would have to sell his kidney. Danial risked his life to get to Turkey, trusting that the refugee system would look after him when he got there. Instead, it was just the beginning of his problems.
His situation felt hopeless. His mother had confronted him about being gay one December morning in 2013. By noon he had fled the family home, taking nothing but the clothes on his back and 50,000 rials — about $2 — in his pocket.
“I had no way forward, no way backwards — I just wanted to escape from that place,” Danial said. For most Iranians, getting to Turkey would be as simple as buying a plane ticket, which can cost less than $200; a few hundred LGBT Iranians make this trip every year because it’s an easy jumping-off point to a new life in the West. Iranian passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Turkey, and the United Nations fast-tracks LGBT refugees for resettlement because it considers them especially vulnerable.
But Danial couldn’t get an Iranian passport. He was the son of an Afghan.