While the acceptance of the LGBTQ community continues to grow around the world, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association reports there are still at least 70 countries with laws that punish homosexuality and, according to Human Rights Watch, at least nine nations that criminalize forms of gender expression.
Without the ability to live freely in those countries, individuals identifying as LGBTQ feel trapped and often seek escape. While it can be liberating to get out of a country where being yourself is illegal, figuring out where to go can be daunting.
Kilian Colin is a queer Muslim refugee from Iraq who is now a San Diego-based LGBTQ rights activist focusing on issues that affect the Muslim Queer and LGBT migrant communities. His experience in his country of origin is indicative of how dire asylum can be for LGBTQ people.
“If someone reported you being gay [in Iraq], even if you don’t do anything publicly, you will still be persecuted,” Colin tells Teen Vogue. “Also, honor killing laws protect murderers who kill gay people.”
Colin and his family were fortunate to seek refuge and legally migrate to the United States. Now, he works to give other people the same chance he had in what can often be a tedious and difficult process.
To understand how the asylum process is challenging for LGBTQ asylum seekers, you first have to know how it works, which is easier said than done.