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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Travel Ban Suspended, Muslim LGBT Voices Call Out to be heard
From a press release
2017-10-24

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Statement from the National Queer Asian Pacific Alliance:

"I tried to be inconspicuous. As the TSA officer mistreated me, I thought maybe it's because I have a Muslim sounding name… I thought he's just playing by the book—then you realize: No! There is no book!" said Chicagoan Sal Salam in a video detailing their experience. Video: youtu.be/9bxAo8BS9_4 .

Sal Salam, a gender-nonconforming Bangladeshi, living in Chicago frequently travels to Bangladesh to visit family. Sal has experienced significant harassment when re-entering the United States. The fact that Sal is not from one of the six majority Muslim countries named in Trumps' travel ban has not prevented repeated incidents of harassment and humiliation.

President Trump, just one week after his inauguration, on January 27, 2017 announced a travel ban—targeting people in 7 majority Muslim countries and attempting to make good on an egregious campaign promise to prevent all Muslims from entering the United States. Ten months later we have since seen several versions of the ban, each prevented by the courts from being implemented. Recently in a thinly veiled effort to disguise its discriminatory nature, Trump inexplicably removed Iraq and Sudan replacing them with two non-majority Muslim countries North Korea and Venezuela, and adding Chad as well.

Once again the court blocked the ban. On October 17, one day before it was to go into effect, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson blocked implementation of the latest version of the "anti- Muslim" travel ban. The Washington Post, National Security section reported:" in a 40-page decision granting the state of Hawaii's request for a temporary restraining order, Watson wrote that the latest ban "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor…. [The executive order] plainly discriminates based on nationality in a way that is opposed to federal law and the founding principles of this Nation." Only Venezuela and North Korea were exempted from the injunction.

At the moment LGBT and other travelers from six of the named nations are not banned from entering the Untied States but there are no real prohibitions in place to prevent harassment of travelers.

LGBT status matters.

Every nation on the travel ban list presents a real and present danger to LGBT people. The penal codes in five of the seven countries — Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Somalia proscribe as punishment for homosexual or same sex relationships 3- 5 years imprisonment. Iran and Yemen call for the death penalty. In each of these five countries a person perceived to be homosexual, may be accused ( and found guilty of ) committing unnatural acts, conducting or promoting same sex relationships, homosexual acts, sodomy, buggery, lewd acts, promoting propaganda or violating obscenity or so-called morality laws. In Chad the new criminal code seeks to punish homosexual behavior as a misdemeanor.

In Venezuela, and North Korea while the penal codes do not contain laws directly discriminating against LGBT people, anecdotal information tells us that LGBT lives are less then tolerable in these repressive societies. Venezuela for example reported over 110 murders of transgender people in less than a decade- the fourth highest ranked country according to Trans Murder Monitoring project.

Not one of these nations carries legal protections for LGBT people. LGBT persons seeking refuge from these countries clearly face life-threatening circumstances and at the very least unbearable living conditions.

Call an End to the Travel ban Endeavor

It is time for the Trump administration to " let go" of the illegal Muslim travel ban and cease the pursuit of further appeals. Federal resources and taxpayer monies should not be further expended in this useless endeavor. Many believe the anti Muslim ban is discriminatory. It adds burden to LGBT and others at risk. This is brought out in stories collected by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) . The voices of queer Muslims demonstrate both the unfairness and lack of necessity for the travel ban. ( See links below )

( The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance has led a national campaign in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) community protesting the ban. We have submitted an LGBT amicus brief in the legal challenges in court, organized a national series of awareness-building actions in 7 cities and continue to tell the stories of LGBT Muslims in America. We will fight the Muslim travel ban as long as necessary. Join us!

VOICES OF QUEER MUSLIMS

* Maya Jafer, transgender Indian Muslim immigrant who shows that extensive security measures and vetting are already in place

Written and Video: www.nqapia.org/wpp/uncovering-our-stories-maya-jafer/ .

* Sal Salam, gender-nonconforming Bangladeshi Muslim who felt harassed and separated from their husband upon re-entering the U.S.

Video: youtu.be/9bxAo8BS9_4 .

* Sahar Shafqat, gender nonconforming Pakistani Muslim who was harassed by TSA

Written: www.nqapia.org/wpp/redefinesecurity-sahar-shafqat/ .

* Pia Ahmed's sister ended up on the No Fly List as a teenager

Video: youtu.be/OewniH4Xflc .

* Pia Ahmed's recounts watching their father get pulled out of line by TSA agents.

Video: youtu.be/gXHR0YPx2RA .

* Alina Bee, South Asian whose ethnic dress was invasively searched by TSA

Written: www.nqapia.org/wpp/redefinesecurity-alina-bee/ .

* Joyti Chand, South Asian, but not Muslim, whose apartment was broken into by LA Police

Written: www.nqapia.org/wpp/redefinesecurity-jyoti-chand/ .

* Read Op-Ed by Sasha W., NQAPIA Organizing Director at www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59b6c8ace4b0465f7588090b .

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) is a nationwide federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander ( API ) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT API groups, develop leadership, and expand collaborations to better challenges anti-LGBT bias and racism.


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