LGBT advocates call for protections for Syrian refugees

Advocates for the Syrian refugees are calling on the Obama administration to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are fleeing the Middle Eastern country torn apart by civil war.

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM) is petitioning the federal government to take in 500 refugees from the LGBT community. Advocates say these refugees face even greater dangers than others escaping from Syria, because they may also be persecuted in surrounding countries for their sexual orientation.

“The refugee system is failing LGBTI people dismally,” said Neil Grungras, executive director of ORAM. 

The number of Syrian refugees has grown to about 4 million people. President Obama recently promised to take in 10,000 of these refugees. The petitioners are requesting 500 of those spaces be reserved for LGBT refugees.

LGBT refugees are among the “world’s extremely vulnerable populations,” Grungras said.

“Those who succeed in escaping the infernos of Syria and Iraq find impossible survival challenges in surrounding countries,” he explained.

At last count, only two people had signed the petition.