Report says over 11,000 LGBTQ asylum claims filed from 2012-2017


A report by the Williams Institute has says that 11,400 applications for asylum were filed in the United States on the basis of LGBTQ status between 2012 to 2017. 

The report also said that three quarters of LGBTQ asylum seekers were male and one-third came from Central America.

“Homosexuality is illegal in 69 countries and can be punished by death in 11 countries. Even in those countries where same-sex conduct isn’t criminalized, LGBT people face persecution and violence that may cause them to flee their home country and seek refuge in another,” said lead author Ari Shaw, Director of International Programs at the Williams Institute. “More robust data collection and reporting is essential to improve the quality and quantity of information about LGBT asylees in the United States.”

Other findings:

  • Between 2007 and 2017, at least 4,385 fear claims that led to interviews by asylum officers were coded as related to LGBTQ status.
  • We estimate that 1.2% of all credible fear interviews conducted each year between 2008- 2017 were related to LGBT status, while 1.7% of all reasonable fear interviews conducted between 2012-2017 were related to LGBT status.
  • Almost all interviews involving LGBTQ claims resulted in positive determinations of fear (98.4%), with most (96.3%) receiving positive determinations for fear of persecution and some meeting requirements for fear of torture (0.8%) or fear of both persecution and torture (1.3%).
  • Over three-fourths of asylum seekers with LGBTQ claims were male (73.7% of credible fear interviews and 81.7% reasonable fear interviews).
  • While claimants originated from 84 countries, over half (51.3%) were from the Northern Triangle region of Central America: El Salvador (28.0%), Honduras (14.9%), and Guatemala (8.4%). Significant proportions also were from Mexico (12.1%) and Ghana (7.8%).
  • 88.3% of LGBTQ asylum claims were heard through credible fear interviews, which are conducted at ports of entry or if a migrant is apprehended after crossing the border. The remaining 11.7% were heard at reasonable fear interviews, which are conducted when migrants are subjected to reinstatement of a prior removal order.
  • A large number of LGBTQ fear interviews (2,000) occurred in 2016 and 2017, proportional to an overall increase in defensive asylum claims during those years. 

The Williams Institute is a research center on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy at UCLA.

You can read the full report here.



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