LGBT Asylum Resources


Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Human Rights Law

The UN Human Rights Office’s publication on sexual orientation and gender identity in international human rights law sets out the source and scope of some of the core legal obligations that countries have to protect the human rights of LGBT people. The 60-page booklet is designed as a tool for States, to help them better understand the nature of their obligations and the steps required to meet them, as well as for civil society activists, human rights defenders and others seeking to hold Governments to account for breaches of international human rights law. The booklet consists of five sections, with each setting forth a State obligation, the relevant international human rights law, and the views of human rights treaty bodies and special procedures: protect, prevent, repeal, prohibit and safeguard.

 Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Center for Gender & Refugee studies is a non-profit organization supporting women asylum-seekers fleeing gender related harm, at both the practice and policy levels. CGRS works to impact the development of law and policy to protect women fleeing gender-based violence.

Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa

Colonizing African Values is a publication by Political Research Associates (PRA) that examines the work of U.S. Christian Right groups since 2009. The report, authored by Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest originally from Zambia, demonstrates that various Christian groups have built organizational strength and campaigns to inscribe homophobia and anti-abortion politics in the constitutions and laws of African countries in the years since.

Fleeing Homophobia

Fleeing Homophobia is a comprehensive report compiled in the Netherlands by various organizations and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. The report focuses on criminalization of sexual orientation, state protection against non-state protection of LGBT people, concealment of sexual orientation/gender identity, internal protection alternatives for refugees, credibility assessments in LGBT refugee cases, late disclosure of sexual orientation in LGBT refugee cases, country of origin information, and reception and detention centers that house LGBT asylees. The report outlines the issues worldwide, and makes international recommendations to protect those fleeing their home countries based on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination/abuse.

Gender Identity Project (GIP) at the Center

The GIP is the first transgender peer counseling and empowerment program in New York State. This landmark program works toward the development of a safe and productive atmosphere for community-building, wellness, and leadership and serves 850 transgender clients yearly. In 2011, Director of Center Wellness Andres Hoyos joined Center clients in testifying before New York City Council’s Committee on Immigration as it looked into how NYC immigrants are treated in detention centers. Cecilia Gentili, a Gender Identity Project Peer Educator and transgender immigrant from Argentina told her story of how she faced both sexual assault and verbal abuse in detention centers before she was ultimately granted asylum after being in this country for 10 years. In 2012, the Center’s Gender Identity Project hosted the Lorena Borjas Community Fund (LBCF) – Ribbon Cutting Event, sponsored by Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Community Healthcare Network and the TransLatina Network of NYC. Lorena is a transgender Latina activist and facilitates a group for the GIP’s Trans-Latina project. The LBCF is a volunteer-run project to help low-income LGBT immigrants.

Heartland Alliance Rainbow Welcome Initiative

Heartland Alliance is a non-profit organization that supports the resettlement of LGBT refugees and asylees through culturally-sensitive, comprehensive LGBT-friendly services and support. The Initiative works closely with local resettlement affiliates to promote the successful integration of members of the LGBT refugee community.


ILGA—the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association—is a worldwide federation working for the equality of LGBT people and their liberation from all forms of discrimination since 1978. Operated from branches in every continent, ILGA brings together over 750 LGBT groups and remains an authority on news, policy and international initiatives in the LGBT community. ILGA is accredited by the United Nations and has been grantedEcosoc consultative status.

ILGA State-Sponsored Homophobia Report and Gay and Lesbian Rights Maps 2013

Updated in May 2013, IGLA provides downloads of their homophobia map, a world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults, and their map on Lesbian and Gay rights in the world, in Africa, in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Immigration Equality

Immigration Equality is a U.S.-based organization that provides legal aid and advocacy for LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants and their families. Immigration Equality offers free legal counsel for recognition for binational families, detention, and asylum. In addition, the organization advocates for policy changes throughout the immigration system, advances impact litigation, and engages in legislative lobbying and coalition-building through the Immigration Equality Action Fund.

Immigration Equality LGBT/HIV Asylum Manual

Immigration Equality’s asylum manual is a resource intended for use by pro bono attorneys and immigration attorneys working on LGBT/HIV asylum cases. Updated in 2006, the manual provides general information on the law and procedure of asylum, withholding and CAT (Convention Against Torture) claims. Further, the manual provides a glossary and important resources available about the process, asylum, office contacts and regional information.

Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality surveyed 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming study participants. A diverse set of people, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, completed online or paper surveys to compose the first 360-degree picture of discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S., providing critical data points for policymakers, community activists and legal advocates to confront the appalling realities documented here and press the case for equity and justice.

International Commission of Jurists Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Casebook

ICJ’s SOGI Casebook consists of 108 cases, from 41 countries across a variety of regions, covering a span of more than forty years. Its 14 chapters cover topics on decriminalization, equality and non-discrimination, employment, freedom of assembly, military service, intersex, gender expression and cross-dressing, recognizing gender identity, transgender marriage, freedom of religion, parenting, asylum and integration, partnership benefits, and marriage. The document intends to help lawyers, judges, and human rights activists better understand how to use the law to protect individual rights. The ICJ hopes that the casebook will stand as evidence for the claim that law on sexual orientation and gender identity is global in nature.

International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Coalition

International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission is a non-profit organization active worldwide. IGLHRC advocates for people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Holding consultative status within the UN, IGLHRC also is dedicated to addressing the right to privacy and family, decriminalization of homosexuality in affected countries, torture and violence against LGBTs, freedom of speech, and stigma-based discrimination in healthcare, especially related to HIV/AIDS.
Istanbul Protocol

The Istanbul Protocol, the Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, serves as international guidelines for documenting torture. Conceived by the UN in Geneva in 1999, the Protocol provides instructions for assessing torture victims, investigating torture cases, and reporting findings to judiciary bodies.

PBS: Well-Founded Fear Companion Site

PBS’s Well-Founded Fear (premiered 2000) documents real-life asylum cases in the INS offices of NYC, from the perspective of both applicants and officers. Its companion site provides a great resource about asylum, discussion guides, and answers to FAQs regarding topics like the detention process, asylum law and profiled asylees from the film.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

PHR is a non-profit human rights organization that focuses on advocacy for civilians harmed during armed conflict, women violated and abused especially as a weapon of war, tortured and abused detainees and healthcare discrimination and withholding due to race, ethnicity or gender/gender identity. Working to stop both mass atrocities and severe mental or physical harm to individuals, PHR investigates and documents abuse through scientific research, forensics and partnerships with local human rights organizations in the U.S. and worldwide.

PHR’s Health Professional’s Guide to Medical and Psychological Evaluations of Torture

PHR’s guide provides a thorough manual on medical and psychological evaluations of torture for health professionals and pro bono lawyers involved in asylum cases. Developed in 2001, the manual comprehensively covers US asylum law, interview considerations, physical evidence of torture, psychological evidence of torture, children and torture, written reports and oral testimony, diagnostic testing, anatomical drawings for the documentation of torture, and resources and referrals for torture treatment centers in the US and Canada.

Report of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation

APA’s 2007 report provides a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts. From said review, the report also offers training applications, policy applications and recommendations regarding treatment and therapeutic interventions.

Rethinking Refuge

Rethinking Refuge is an interdisciplinary discussion group that works with refugees in NYC. Participants include legal representatives, therapists, case managers, researchers and human rights advocates.

Somos Saludables Resources

A resource page for the LGBT Puerto Rican and US communities in Spanish. This comprehensive list provides support in the following areas: transgender and intersex, education, legal and general services.

Transrespect versus Transphobia World Wide

TvT is a comparative, ongoing qualitative-quantitative research project conducted by Transgender Europe’s (TGEU) research team with 17 partner organizations and numerous trans activists and researchers in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America and Oceania. The document provides an international overview of the human rights situation for gender variant and transpeople and contains advocacy tools for international institutions,  human rights organizations, the trans movement and general public.

UNHCR Guidance On Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Published in Geneva in 2008, UNHCR’s Guidance note seeks to clarify applicable law and legal standards with the aim of providing guidance regarding SOCE cases of refugees. The document aims to enhance the delivery of protection to refugees and asylum-seekers through adherence to international standards in refugee protection. It provides specific information pertaining to well-founded fear of persecution, convention grounds, international flight/relocation alternatives, burden of proof and credibility assessment, and sur place claims.

USCIS Guidelines for Adjuncating LGBTI Refugee and Asylum Claims

These USCIS Guidelines serve as a training module for adjudicating and considering immigration benefits, petitions, protections, or other immigration-related requests by LGBTI individuals. The module addresses the legal analysis
of claims that involve LGBTI applicants as well as related interviewing considerations.

Yogyakarta Principles

Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity developed by legal experts in 2006. The principles affirm legal standards for all states worldwide and intend to address all human rights abuses toward LGBT people and issues of intersexuality, from economic and social rights to freedom of asylum.


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