Saghi Ghahraman, President of IRQO, and Hossein Alizadeh, IGLHRC’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator met with the director of RSD (Refugee Status Determination) of UNHCR – Geneva on Wednesday October 1st.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva serves as the Legislative Head Quarter for the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees.
During the meeting, Ghahraman and Alizadeh stressed on the necessity of expedited Refugee and Resettlement processes based on the harsh treatment the LGBT experience in their homeland, Iran, since their early childhood and teenage years plus the homophobic harassment they endure in satellite cities that places them among the most vulnerable of refugees residing in transit countries.
Saghi Ghahraman suggested to submit a specialized report chronicling the wait time since arrivals and registering with the UNHCR through departure for resettlement in a third country to the attention of the UNHCR officials, detailing the effect the current wait-time has on the individual Transsexuals, Transgenders, Gay, and Lesbians in transit countries, with focus on Turkey where the majority of Iranian LGBT start their claim for refugee status.
It was stated by the UNHCR officials that their office was aware of the critical situation but welcomed and thanked the preparation of more detailed descriptions of the special conditions of the LGBT members by IRQO. Saghi Ghahraman also explained that since the LGBT refugees comprise only about 1 percent of the number of asylum seekers in Turkey, there can be a way to assign a special wait-time priority to the group, given the circumstances. She explained that while lesbian and gay refugees are suffering from anti depression medication side-effects without any professional or peer support system and are subject to homophobic attacks during their stay in Turkey, TS and TG refugees are, due to incomplete or inefficient sex-change reassignment side effects, physically unable to face the two year minimum wait time before their exit into the third country.
It was also mentioned that part of the delays in assessment processes was due to administrative glitches and obstacles within the offices of the UNHCR administration.
When the issue of number of refugees making a claim based on SOGI came up, Ghahraman mentioned that the number was not accurate since the genuine LGBT claimants were less than the number UNHCR has which contains many fake claims, too. She offered that the legal officer who interviews the asylum seekers pay more attention to mental and emotional experiences rather than physical and sexual encounters with same-sex, as the cliché perspective of homosexuality, since the percentage of approval rate of fake claims and cases create a heavy traffic in re accommodation
and relocation of the refugees.
With regards to disingenuous LGBT claimants, and genuine characteristics of LGBT in international and local terms, the UNHCR representative generously stated that cooperation of a credible LGBT advocacy organizations with intimate ties within the Iranian LGBT community is beneficial as to defining these terms for the purposes of a diligent assessments of claims that were made based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
IGLHRC’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator
Hossein Alizadeh, presented information as to the problems shared by the LGBT members in Iran and countries such as Iraq and Syria and offered collaboration with IRQO in following up with the submission of the above mentioned report and was hopeful that cooperation of such organizations with the United Nation’s High Commissioner for the Refugee would have many more positive effects on the speed, precision, and sensitivity of LGBT cases.
It must be said that on September 30, Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), International Commission for Gay and Lesbian (IGIHRC), and Impact Iran met with the office of researcher of human rights division of the United Nations in Geneva and talked about the citizenry rights of the Iran LGBT community. Some explanations about the LGBT conditions regarding the citizenry and punishment laws were given by stating the examples in this meeting. Laws which have negative effects and impede the growth process of LGBT children, teenagers, and young adults and restrict physical and mental security of this group and limit their participation in society as effective, positive, and responsible citizens.
These meetings were on the side of series of meeting with UPR related discussions with the country representatives who were to offer questions and suggestions on Iran during the October 2014 UPR.