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“We have wish to stay in the sky, not here. Not on Earth,”
January 24, 2014 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Manoj and Maninder recall their harrowing year-long escape from brutality in India. They smuggled themselves into the United States, where they encountered further abuse in a detention center in El Paso, Texas. In the aftermath of the ruling on India's sodomy law, they've been granted asylum, but they continue to fear for their lives.
posted by orangutan (11 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
They'd be welcome here in the Bay Area, and LA/Long Beach. And some places in Florida. And any state that recognizes "gay" marriage...
posted by Chuffy at 2:31 PM on January 24


crying at my desk
posted by rtha at 2:33 PM on January 24


Isn't part of the problems they're having here the product of being part of the (presumably) immigrant Indian community where they're living? It seems unlikely to me that a first-generation Indian immigrant is going to have significantly more tolerant views about sexual orientation than the community from which they fled. Well, okay, they're probably much less likely to be beaten to death here, but they're still going to experience disapproval and ostracization.

I hope that this article will somehow allow them to find an Indian-American LGBT advocate who could help them find a community where they will feel more welcome.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:05 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


“We are feeling like homosexuality is a crime everywhere,” he told me. “Why [did] we come into the United States? There is not any protection here.”

Though he sees the U.S. as a small step up from India, he now doubts there is anywhere in the world they would feel truly safe.

“We have wish to stay in the sky, not here. Not on Earth,” he said.


Oh for God's sake- CANADA. We have ten times the south Asian population that the US has, per capita, and tons of support for GLBT people from India and the Indian diaspora, like my partner of 19 years who is Indo-Trinidadian. Why this wasn't their first destination- I don't get why any gay couple would make, or attempt to make, a beeline for the US when the country where you have the best legal status for gay couples in the entire world is right next door. We also have a much more accommodating refugee policy.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:04 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Indeed Canada might have been a superior destination, but who knows the exact details of what their decision was based on. It might have been a simple mistake, or maybe some practical issue of getting to Canada vs getting into the U.S., I have no idea.

The other thing is that if they knew they'd end up in an anglophone country, it would have been useful to start preparing by learning English to their best ability, as it would make their life easier and increase their options regardless of anything else. There are resources for learning, including self-learning, at very low or free cost, so pouring a lot of time into that effort would pay off. It's never too late, at least that way they might be less dependent on a particular community which may or may not be welcoming.

Meanwhile, why is the ICE living in the dark ages? It's a federal agency. You'd think that with the Democrats in charge, there would be some effort to treat people with decency, particularly groups that have been fleeing exactly this kind of persecution from officialdom. I don't understand why such harassment by federal personnel is common knowledge and tolerated. If there was this kind of persecution on racial grounds, there'd be outrage - why is there so little done when it comes to LGBT persecution?
posted by VikingSword at 4:43 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


They were fleeing for their lives, not planning a vay-cay to the Sunny Beaches of Canada City. Maybe you'd be a better-planned refugee; I probably wouldn't.

They've been in the US proper for a month now after a harrowing year-plus flight through a number of countries and detention in a very harsh environment - some culture shock is to be expected, and reaching out to a slice of home is logical - they were fleeing cultural attitudes towards homosexuality, not India itself. If they were working under the assumption that America Loves Gays, maybe America's Little Indias are the best of both worlds? Maybe not.

At least they have each other.
posted by angerbot at 5:50 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


In Toronto, the community centre in the gay neighbourhood has a newcomer program to help people in just this situation. They serve all newcomers, but also have a special mission to help LGBT newcomers (many of whom have immigrated due to discrimination) settle and be safe.

Not everyone should come to Canada (have you see the temperature outside today?). But maybe everywhere should have programs like this.
posted by jb at 7:07 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


“We are feeling like homosexuality is a crime everywhere,” he told me. “Why [did] we come into the United States? There is not any protection here.”

Though he sees the U.S. as a small step up from India, he now doubts there is anywhere in the world they would feel truly safe.


They spent 8 months in Cyprus, which is full of tourists from all sorts of different countries. And being out of work, you might think that could have been a good time to talk to some people and do some research. So if by the end of those 8 months they choose to go to Texas, of all places, then it just seems to me that they haven't done their homework.
posted by sour cream at 11:00 AM on January 25


Not everyone should come to Canada (have you see the temperature outside today?). But maybe everywhere should have programs like this.


Yeah, it's sunny and 13c here in Calgary. Toronto isn't Canada.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:35 PM on January 25


and what's the average winter temperature in Calgary? Or are you trying Erik the Red's Greenland strategy for recruiting settlers?
posted by jb at 2:37 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


The immigration judge made the right choice,1 but refugee law is a tiny Band-Aid for a problem that is already unmanageably large. It's a pity that the USA has an idiosyncratic approach to international law: I think that a more sympathetic approach to the enforcement of human rights treaties would let it bring great pressure towards their adoption by other countries .

1 That is, I humbly submit that the learned judge's decision was both compassionate and consistent with the best traditions of jurisprudence.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:27 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


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