LGBT+ Qataris deserve equal protection under international asylum laws.
Qatar, although it projects itself as a modern nation, is a dangerous place to be LGBT+. Most of the country's LGBT+ community lives in the shadows, out of fear for their health, safety, and even their lives. Although Qatari society isn't particularly accepting of the LGBT+ community, it's the government's own laws that make life so difficult for queer people in the country.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Article 296 of the penal code with punishment ranging from imprisonment of 3-5 years, and even the death penalty. Meanwhile, forced disappearances, "corrective" rape as a form of torture, state-sanctioned violence, and honor killings are commonplace. Because of these homophobic laws and the daily social and legal obstacles that exist in Qatari society, many have no other choice but to flee their homes and country in search of a better life.
And the international community has a responsibility to protect those fleeing Qatar.
The U.S. State Department has stated, "LGBTQI+ persons should have equal access to protection, assistance, and solutions in global humanitarian response," yet far too often asylum applications based on sexual orientation or gender identity are denied. Sometimes, applications are asked difficult questions like naming popular gay bars or organizations in their home country. However, many applicants who have been forced to live in the shadows will not know the answers to these impossible questions, often resulting in their application being denied.
For too long, countries like the U.S. have sat on the sidelines as LGBT+ asylum seekers face uncertain futures. Will you speak up and demand action? Will you demand legal protections for LGBT+ asylum seekers?