The White House on Tuesday rejected
calls to set aside a specific number of slots for LGBT Syrian
refugees, but added that it would prioritize such cases.
White Hose Press Secretary Josh Earnest
said that the Obama administration would not set aside 500 slots for
LGBT people seeking asylum in the United States from Syria. Instead,
Earnest said, the administration would prioritize the cases of
individuals “deemed to be the most vulnerable.”
Earnest made his comments in response
to a question on the subject from Washington
Blade reporter Chris Johnson.
“There are no quotas that are set
aside, but the process that we have implemented does prioritize the
cases of those who have been subjected to torture, including like the
torture that you described, or might have been singled out for their
status as a minority, whether that’s a racial minority or an ethnic
minority or a religious minority, or even somebody – an LGBT
person,” Earnest said.
The Organization for Refuge, Asylum &
Migration (ORAM) is among the groups calling for the set aside. A
petition it launched gathered nearly 35,000 signatures.
“Living under a constant threat of
being thrown from the top of a building or beheaded simply because of
your sexual orientation or gender identity is about as extreme a form
of persecution as you can image,” ORAM Executive Director Neil
Grungras told the Blade. “Escaping that threat only to live
in constant fear of being killed by other refugees or locals is too
much for any human to bear.”