Queer Asylum Seekers In An Especially Vulnerable Situation - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Queer Asylum Seekers In An Especially Vulnerable Situation

Published February 13, 2017

Photos by
Art Bicnick

The National Queer Organisation believes the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) needs to start taking into consideration the fact that gay, trans and intersex asylum seekers are in an especially vulnerable situation when they apply for sanctuary in Iceland.

María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, the director of the organisation, told listeners of radio station Rás 2 that this vulnerability applies not only to the fact that the countries of origin of these asylum seekers actively persecute members of the queer community; the refugee and asylum seeker centres where they are housed can also be particularly dangerous places.

One immediate example that Grapevine readers will be familiar with is Amir Shokrgozar, an Iranian asylum seeker who was deported two weeks ago under cover of night. Amir fled Iran on account of being gay, as the penalty for homosexuality in Iran is death, and he was subsequently gang raped in a refugee centre on his way to Iceland. María says Amir is but one example of many.

“We have as a people had ambitions for being progressive in the area of human rights, and to build up a society where diversity is given a priority,” she told listeners. “But I find it shameful if it doesn’t go further; if we’re using any formal excuse to send people out of the country who look to us in a situation of great need, and who certainly need to live somewhere in peace and with dignity.”

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