What's It Like To Be An LGBT Refugee In The US?

by Emma Cueto

For all that LGBT right have had some big victories in recent years, there is still an unfortunate level of homophobia in American society. Even so, though, it's also worth remembering that for many LGBT people around the world, America is a much safer, more more welcoming place to be — a fact thrown into sharp relief by BuzzFeed's video about LGBT refugees in the U.S. Because though we are far from perfect, the U.S. can still be a safe haven for a lot of people.

Globally, homophobia is not only unfortunately common, but even often written into the legal code. Five countries — Mauritania, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia — actually punish homosexuality with the death penalty; furthermore, numerous other countries have laws against "homosexual acts" which can carry lengthy prison sentences. Many of these laws, which are particularly common in Africa, are legacies of colonial rule or the result of modern Western influences such as Christian evangelicals, but they continue to terrorize LGBT citizens today. Which is why it's unfortunately not surprising that many LGBT people from around the world seek asylum in the U.S. and other countries with relatively better protections for the LGBT community.

But what's it like once they get here?

In this video, four immigrants share their experiences and observations, ranging from their impressions of America to how they feel about their native countries. Here are some of the highlights; scroll down to watch the whole thing.

1. On LGBT Rights In Their Homeland:

"The LGBT community there [Jamaica] live so far underground that you're basically cut off from the rest of society."

2. On Deciding to Leave Home:

"I've been attacked before...At that point in time, I said, 'My life is in jeapordy. Either I do something about it, or they will do something about me."

3. On What It's Like In the U.S.:

"Here I feel free."

4. On Missing Their Home:

"I sincerely don't miss [The Dominican Republic] much. I simply miss my family."

Hopefully someday no one will ever have to move halfway around the world and leave behind their family and their home in order to be safe and themselves at the same time. Until then, though, there will most likely be lots more LGBT people seeking asylum in the US.

Images: BuzzFeedYellow/YouTube (4)