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Queer Migration

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Queer Migration

Athens Pride Parade 2009

Queer migration is the movement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people around the world and domestically, often to escape discrimination or ill treatment due to their sexuality. Globally, many LGBTQ people attempt to leave discriminatory regions in search of more tolerant ones.

LGBT discrimination and tolerance by region


In the early 1900s, homosexuality was also used as a valid reason for deportation in Australia.[1] The nation specifically allowed for homosexual immigration in the 1980s.[2]

North America

In the beginning of the 20th century, homosexuality was considered a mental illness and used to bar homosexuals from immigrating into the United States, and Canada.[1] Canada allowed for homosexual immigration in 1991.[2]

The United States

In the United States, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 became the first policy to explicitly prevent “sexual deviates” from entering the country, and it also required the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to deport these individuals.[3]

The Lavender Scare of the anti-communist 1950’s America created additional persecution of homosexuals and a spirit of fear among people with same-sex attraction. After the war, a "Pervert Elimination Campaign" was initiated in Washington D.C. by the U.S. Park Police. D.C. parks witnessed a number of sex charge arrests of gay men, many of whom subsequently lost their jobs. [4]

The United States military excluded homosexuals until 2011, and proposed that they were unfit for service. The law commonly known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” allowed LGB people to serve as long as they kept their sexuality hidden. The Obama administration allowed LGB people to serve openly in the military. [5]


In Mexico, between 2002 and 2007 roughly 1000 people -- mostly gay men -- were recorded as murdered for homosexual acts. That statistic makes Mexico the country with the second-highest rate of homophobic crimes in the world (after Brazil).[6][7] Only 16 women were established to have been murdered because of homosexuality between 1995 and 2004.[8]

A UAM study found that the most frequent types of discrimination were "not hiring for a job," "threats of extortion and detention by police," and "abuse of employees."[9]


The knight of Hohenberg burned with his servant for sodomy, Zurich 1482.

Greeks, Romans, and most Mediterranean cultures glorified homosexuality in ancient times, and prior to the 7th century Europe had no secular laws against it.[10]

Beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, Europe considered all homosexuality equivalent to the biblical sin of sodomy, punishable by death.[11] Later during the Holocaust, homosexuals were rounded up and murdered alongside Jews.

The Buggery Act of 1533 and the Laws in Wales Act of 1542, punished gay sex with death by hanging in England and Wales.[11]

Under the rule of Joseph Stalin, Russia outlawed male homosexuality in 1933 and made the offense punishable by 5 years of hard labor in prison. This was not repealed until 1993.[12][13]

More than half of the 80 countries that continue to outlaw homosexuality were once British colonies.[14] It is theorized that, during 19th century colonial rule, many of the British anti-gay policies that were enacted still retain influence in these former colonies.[15]


Many African countries punish homosexuality with the death sentence, like Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria, where lesbians and gays are sometimes stoned to death. Institutional sexual persecution is also rampant in Cameroon, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Gambia. Zimbabwe banned homosexual acts in 1995.[16][17][18]


In Uganda “touching a person with homosexual intent” results in a life sentence in prison, and actions that are perceived to promote homosexuality carry a seven-year sentence – these actions include advocating for gay human rights, belonging to a gay organization, and advocating for safe homosexual sex.[18][19]

South Africa

Corrective rape, the rape of LGBT people in order to “correct” their “pathologies”, is a well-known phenomenon in South Africa.[20] This can be especially harmful, considering the high instance of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.[21]
"Hua Ying Chin Chen” homoerotic print, China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644)


North Korea

The North Korean government proposes that gay culture is caused by the vices of capitalist societies.[22] Homosexuality can be punished by up to 2 years in prison.[23]


Bisexual behavior was considered normal behavior in Ancient China.[24]

Following interactions with the West, China began to view homosexuality as a mental illness in the late Qing Dynasty.[25] It was outlawed in 1740.[26] Later, in the Republic of China, homosexuality was not illegal but it was vigorously policed as such.[27]

Middle East


Israel allows lesbians and gays in their military, which first occurred in 1993. Additionally discrimination against lesbians and gays is specifically prohibited.[28][29] The Israeli government also gives funding to LGBT organizations and the prime minister has publicly condemned LGBT hate crimes.[30] LBGT immigrants who were legally married in other countries are legally recognized in Israel. [30]

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality carries a maximum punishment of public execution when the activity is deemed to engage in LGBT social movements, but other punishments include forced sex changes, fines, imprisonments, and whipping.[31]


Under the influence of the Taliban, men accused of sodomy were sometimes killed by having a wall toppled over them. In February 1998, three men accused of sodomy were taken to the base of a mud and brick wall, which was then toppled over onto them by a tank. A similar death sentence for two men occurred in the March of 1998. Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Hassan, was reported to say, "Our religious scholars are not agreed on the right kind of punishment for homosexuality. Some say we should take these sinners to a high roof and throw them down, while others say we should dig a hole beside a wall, bury them, then push the wall down on top of them."[32] Prior to Taliban rule, the supposedly "Islamic" punishment of having walls toppled onto homosexuals was not precedented.[33]

After the fall of the Taliban, homosexuality became punishable by fines and prison sentences.[33]

United Arab Emirates

In 2006, 11 gay men at a private party were given 5 years in prison each for admitting to be gay and organizing a cross-dressing party.[34] The two main youthful crimes from ages 14-18 within the population of Arab youth that are located in the Gulf States are petty theft and homosexual acts. In these countries, youth over the age of 16 are tried as adults, so these homosexual actions may cause severe and dire punishment within the legal system. [35]


In Baghdad in 2009 a characteristic assortment of anti-gay crimes were committed. The Iraqi militia began torturing male homosexuals in ways that usually resulted in death. The Iraqi LGBT group suffered 63 cases of torture within its members. Murders of LGBT people were called for by anonymous individuals.[36]


In Iran a voluntary militia, the Basij, functions partially as a "morality police." Among other things, the Basij has been known to find and persecute LGBT people.[37]


In September of 2013, countries of the U.N. declared to protect LGBT rights, counter global homophobia, and support educational campaigns for the advancement of LGBT rights.[38]

In 1991 The [39]

LGBT discrimination and tolerance in religion

The Orthodox Church

In 2013, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held that "marriage consists in the union of a man and a woman."[40] The Eastern Orthodox Church has consistently condemned homosexuality as a sin that damages the soul, despite dissent from Church leaders.[41][42]

Religious protestors in San Francisco

Christianity and the Bible

The Old Testament is often interpreted to condemn homosexuality and homosexual acts, and the Catholic Church traditionally rejected same-sex behavior and considered it against nature. The Catholic community has politically campaigned against LGBT rights. [43] In 2013 Pope Francis said, in reference to celibate gay men entering the priesthood, "Who am I to judge?" [44]


Islamic Shari'ah law stems from the Qur'an and Muhammad's Sunnah. They are often seen as the laws of Allah, and under this law, homosexuality is a crime and a punishable sin against God.

The Qur'an (7:80-84) is translated, "...For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.... And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)." Muslim scholars have sometimes interpreted the "rain of stones" to mean that homosexuals should be stoned.[45]

Additionally, a Yusuf Ali translation of the Qur'an goes, "If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone." [45]

The Radical Faeries

The Radical Faeries is an international religion and social movement that began in the 1970s and strives to redefine the way lesbians and gays are perceived.[46][47]

Current trends of immigration

Prominent countries known for substantial LGBTQ emigration include Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Brazil.[48][49][50]

LBGTQ immigrants are seen frequently to immigrate to Canada, Britain, and the United States.[50] In 1994, U.S. immigration law recognized sexual persecution as grounds for seeking asylum. U.S. President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies to provide asylum for persecuted LBGTQ persons.[51] Only Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Switzerland have enacted immigration equality allowing for partner sponsorship.[52]

The number of LGBTQ people seeking asylum into the United States is not currently known.

Pride Parade in Jerusalum

Middle Eastern LGBT Migration to Israel

Compared to its Middle Eastern neighbors, Israel has more LGBT-supportive policies, and it accepts LGBT asylum applicants. Israel ratified the UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1951, which theoretically gives protection or asylum to anyone with a "well-founded fear of being persecuted" and forbids the deportation of refugees to the country where their lives were initially threatened. This policy has not been explicitly followed by Israel, but Palestinian LGBT immigrants have been accepted into Israeli LGBT communities, where previous legal LGBT marriages are officially recognized, though gay marriage is not legal in Israel. [53] As a result, Middle Eastern migration of LGBT people to Israel has been seen.

Tel Aviv was dubbed the “gay capital of the Middle East” by Out Magazine in 2010.[54]

Irish LGBTQ Migration to London

Irish people have been known to migrate to England and especially to London where they typically try to find employment. More recently, London has seen an immigration of Irish LGBT people who are hoping to find a more accepting social environment. Urban areas and large international cities are often seen as tolerant and sexually diverse, and many already contain established queer communities.[55]

Irish LGBT immigrants often experience vulnerability in the absence of family networks, which is exacerbated in the context of homophobia and sexual discrimination. Legal protection against sexual discrimination in employment was only introduced in the UK in 2003. Even when legislative provisions and support are in place, homophobia continues to make life and the process of migration difficult for queer migrants.[55]

Obstacles for Queer Asylum Seekers and Immigrants

In the United States, judges and immigration officials are requiring that homosexuality must be socially visible in order for sexual persecution to be a viable complaint. Additionally, homosexuality is considered and required to be a permanent and inherent characteristic by U.S. immigration officials.[56]

In the Czech Republic, “proof” of homosexuality is required from gay asylum seekers. This is determined using genital cuffs that monitor arousal as the potential refugees watch pornography.[57]

Legalization of LGBTQ Marriage

Legally unrecognized lesbian marriage in Taiwan

In the United States, only heterosexual bi-national couples are provided sponsorship benefits when they marry. These benefits include qualifying for permanent resident status and gaining employment. Conversely, same-sex couples are required to either maintain a constant long-distance relationship or split up.[58]

Some countries allow benefits for bi-national same-sex couples when one of them is a citizen. These countries include, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and Ireland.[59][60]

In the United States, same-sex marriage is legally recognized. Additionally, several countries have legalized it, namely: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand, Uruguay, Brazil, France, certain parts of the United Kingdom and Mexico. [61]

See also


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