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LGBT Asians/South Asians Urge U.S.  Supreme Court to Strike Down Trump’s  Anti-Muslim Travel Ban

Read the LGBT Amicus Brief at bit.ly/17-956

Tomorrow on April 25, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Donald Trump’s third iteration of his anti-Muslim Travel Ban. The ban, issued by Executive Order, bars people from certain majority Muslim countries from coming to the United States.

LGBT Asian/South Asian groups submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), with the pro bono assistance of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, spearheaded the brief illustrating the impact of Trump’s travel ban on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Brief is here: bit.ly/17-956.

Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director and Counsel on the Amicus Brief, said, “Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban has a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people and tears families apart. The defense relies on some of the cases and legal theories that supported the internment of Japanese Americans.”

He continued, “We’ve been here before. In 1987, President Regan instituted an anti-HIV Travel ban. In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court banned homosexuals because they were persons of ‘bad moral character.’ In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese from immigrating to the United States. Let’s never forget. Never again.”

Arguments

The amicus brief details the oppressive conditions for LGBT people living in the countries named in the travel ban, where homosexuality is criminalized and LGBT people are persecuted. The brief explains how Trump’s ban prevents LGBT people in those countries from joining their families and loved ones in the United States, increasing their exposure to persecution in their home countries.

Moreover, the brief argues that the ban deprives U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of their constitutionally-protected liberty interests in maintaining familial relationships with their loved ones whose safety is jeopardized by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because the ban’s narrow—and legally required—exceptions lack meaningful rules guaranteeing equal treatment of LGBT visa applicants, Trump’s travel ban disproportionately denies LGBT people the ability to reunite with their loved ones in the United States.

Co-Signers

8 signed-on organizations

Seven (7) LGBTQ South Asian and Asian Pacific Islander organizations across the country join as co-amici to sign on to the brief:

  • API Equality-Los Angeles
  • API Equality-Northern California (APIENC)
  • Invisible to Invincible (i2i): Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago
  • KhushDC
  • Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA)
  • Queer South Asian Collective (QSAC)
  • South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association of New York City (SALGA-NYC)
  • Trikone Northwest

In addition to these groups, the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti Violence Project; Immigration Equality; LGBT bar associations in New York (LeGaL), Chicago (LAGBAC), San Francisco (BALIF), and Los Angeles; and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Boston also joined.

Shristi Pant, a member of QSAC in Boston, said, “As an organization for South Asian queer and trans folks, we have a duty to support our Muslim community members, as well as Muslim folks from other areas of the world. This travel ban is just one aspect of the anti-Muslim violence that is being perpetuated in and by the U.S. and one that deeply affects Muslim LGBTQA+ folks in need of refuge from the violence they already face.”

Sammie Ablaza Wills, Director of API Equality-Northern California, commented that, “The anti-Muslim and anti-refugee ban is political fear mongering, directly impacting many in our communities. As LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander people, we understand that we cannot accept policies that dehumanize our Muslim and refugee family members. APIENC is dedicated to working towards safety and freedom for our people, and we will fight the Muslim ban at the airports, on the streets, and in the courts.”

Anne Watanabe, i2i core member in Chicago further elaborated, “As Asian Americans, we remember the disgraceful U.S. history of 120,000 Japanese American and Japanese people being forced into detention camps as a result of wartime hysteria filled with racism. We are now seeing this racist history repeat itself against Muslims and other targeted communities.”

Prior Actions

API Equality-LA works in solidarity with LGBTQ Muslims and those affected by racial profiling. In 2017, API Equality-LA took action on 9/11 highlighting the experiences of queer and trans Muslims and South Asians through a vigil hosted at Los Angeles City Hall. Its Indi(visible) Campaign advocates for a holistic approach towards immigration equality that encompasses challenging Islamophobia and the Muslim Ban, defending DACA and undocumented communities, and protecting LGBTQ immigrants, particularly trans immigrants of color.

Last fall, before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on Trump’s second version of the travel ban, NQAPIA and several of the co-signing groups organized awareness raising actions in seven (7) cities—Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC—protesting the violence, harassment, and profiling that LGBTQ South Asians and Muslims have endured since 9/11.

“For the past two years, on the anniversary of 9/11, KhushDC has participated in and organized direct actions to raise awareness of Islamophobia. These actions bring attention to the increased profiling and discrimination faced by Muslim people in the U.S.,” said Anish Tailor of KhushDC.

The effort, entitled “#QueerAzaadi,” featured community funerals to lift the names of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, trans women, African Americans, and undocumented immigrants killed in hate crimes; storytelling speak outs of LGBTQ Muslims and experiences of violence in the last 16 years; and mock checkpoints targeting white people to replicate the profiling that South Asian, Muslim, API, and people of color experience at airports and government buildings. 300 people participated in the actions in seven (7) cities that unveiled the interlocking systems of Islamophobia, Transphobia, Xenophobia, and Anti-Blackness.

Voices of Queer Muslims

NQAPIA has also published the personal stories of LGBT Muslims and South Asians sharing their experiences of policing and profiling in writing at nqapia.org/redefinesecurity-stories and in video at nqapia.org/redefinesecurity-videos.

Historical Timeline

1882 – Anti-Chinese Travel Ban
In 1882, Congress adopted and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first piece of federal legislation that singled out a minority group for invidious discrimination and barred their entry. It was not until 1943 that Chinese people could naturalize to become U.S. citizens. The Act was passed after many Chinese people had built the transcontinental railroad which unified the United States East and West.

1952 – Anti-LGBT Travel Ban
From 1952 to 1990, LGBT people were excluded from the U.S. because they were deemed to be of “psychopathic personality.” The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law and its application to homosexuals. Lower courts further denied the naturalization of LGBT immigrants because they were persons of “bad moral character.”

1987 – Anti-HIV Travel Ban
From 1987 to 2010, President Reagan issued an Executive Order, which President Bush extended, barring people with AIDS or who were HIV+ from entering the United States. Congress then codified the HIV+ exclusion into federal law in 1993. It was not until 2010, under President Obama, when the travel restriction was eliminated.

2017 – Anti-Muslim Travel Ban
Trump issued an executive order preventing people from 6 majority Muslim counties (Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia) and all refugees from entering the United States.

# # #

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

#NeverAgain nomuslimbanever.com #QueerAzaadi

#QueerAzaadi: A National Call for Mourning, Action, & Celebration on 9/11

 #QueerAzaadi // Queer Liberation

A National Call for Action, Mourning, & Celebration on the Weekend of 9/11

Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17 years old.
Nabra Hassanen, 17 years old.
Jaquarrius Holland, 18 years old.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32 years old.

These are just a few of the people that our communities have lost to hate crimes and state violence this year. 2017 has seen a rise in the murders of Black trans women, of Black people killed by police violence, of Muslims and those mistaken for Muslim killed in Islamophobic hate crimes. As queer and trans Muslims, South Asians, and APIs, we know that these forms of violence are connected. We cannot separate being harassed because of our gender identities from being harassed because of the color of our skin. Transphobia, islamophobia, anti-Blackness, and xenophobia all reinforce each other in our lives.

#QueerAzaadi

This is the year of Trump’s election and the Muslim Ban. This is a year that trans people have fought multiple attacks on our humanity. This is a year that anti-Muslim hate groups have multiplied in a way we haven’t experienced since September 11th, 2001. 9/11 is certainly not the only moment that marks the policing, profiling and surveillance of our communities. Yet agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), policies such as the PATRIOT Act, and registries such as the National Security Entry – Exit Registration System (NSEERS) grew from the Islamophobia that followed that day. These policies are Islamophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, anti-Black forms of state violence that have only multiplied in the last 16 years.

 

For this reason, we will mark the 16th anniversary of 9/11 with a national day of

ACTION

to lift up our voices and create empowering space led by trans and queer Muslims

MOURNING

for all those who have been taken from us too soon

& CELEBRATING

our resistance, resilience, and survival

 

We will lift up the names of all of our people who have been lost to state-sanctioned violence and hate crimes – whether at the hands of law enforcement, immigration enforcement, vigilantes, or white supremacists. And, we will celebrate ourselves on 9/11: our lives, our stories, and our resistance as LGBTQ people of color, in struggle towards #QueerAzaadi / Liberation.

Will you join us?

We have actions planned in Austin, Boston, Chicago, DC, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.

Click on your city to get involved. Email sasha@nqapia.org for more details, and if you or your organization is willing to lead an action in your city!

Virtual Support

Want to support this weekend of action for #QueerAzaadi, but can’t come to an event in person? We would love your support by amplifying our work through social media!

We’d love for trans and queer Muslims to take over social media on Sunday 9/10 at 5PT / 7CT / 8ET. Can you join us?

Click this link to find sample tweets and posts. We’ll also have pictures from our actions in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, and Austin on our social media by then as well – we’d really appreciate a repost!

Click to view select photos and reflections from many of the actions.

In the News

Check out these articles from Colorlines, Huffington Post, Asian Pacific Forum, the LA Blade, and the Washington Blade.

Our Goals

  • Reclaiming spaces in which we are normally terrorized: creating spaces that feel empowering for QT Muslim/South Asian/Brown/Black folks on 9/11
  • Lifting up Queer Muslim voices: creating a narrative shift by centering queer and trans Muslim voices in our communities and in media on 9/11
  • Shifting narrative around hate crimes: connecting systems of Islamophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and anti-Blackness in words and actions
  • Building our own capacity: creating safer space for our people to try on planning and being part of direct action
  • Organizing visible mass resistance to the Muslim Ban, and the whole surveillance/security state apparatus, before the SCOTUS hearing on Oct 10th

Partners

#VigilantLove Coalition
18 Million Rising
Advocates for Youth
APALA
API Equality LA
API Equality Northern California
API Resistance
Asian American Resource Workshop
DC Justice for Muslims
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Gender Justice LA
GetEQUAL
GSA Network
hotpot!
Invisible 2 Invincible: API Pride of Chicago
Justice Warriors for Black Lives
KhushATX
KhushDC
Muslim Justice League
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
Nikkei Progressives
Philly South Asian Coalition
QAPA
Queer Muslims of Boston
Satrang
South Asian Americans Leading Together
Southerners on New Ground
SWANA – LA
Transgender Law Center
Trikone Chicago
Tuesday Night Project
UndocuBlack Network
Washington Peace Center
White People for Black Lives – LA

#QueerAzaadi #NQAPIA

Against Islamophobia: LGBT & MASA Letter to Administration, Candidates & Policymakers

TO:
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Hillary Clinton, Candidate for President of the United States
Donald Trump, Candidate for President of the United States
Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives
Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives
Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the US Senate
Harry Reid, Minority Leader of the US Senate
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

As organizations representing diverse LGBT communities and Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities, we write to express our deep concern regarding the divisive rhetoric and reactionary public policy objectives that have emerged since the mass shooting in Orlando. Our communities are still in mourning after forty-nine, mostly LGBTQ Latinx lives were lost and dozens more were injured. At the same time, many of our organizations have come together through words and actions to express our unity and solidarity.

At this moment, as we collectively attempt to respond to the massacre in Orlando, it is vital that our political leaders set the right tone and example for the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, in the 48 hours since the tragedy, many political leaders have resorted to divisive and inflammatory rhetoric by characterizing the Orlando massacre as an act of terror, and by calling for policies and actions that would disproportionately target those who are Muslim or come from South Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

We ask that the President, presidential candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, Congressional leaders, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security set the right tone: send strong and frequent public messages about the importance of coming together rather than giving into backlash; refrain from dangerous anti-Muslim sentiment; and resist enacting policies that will harm our communities in the name of national security.

We ask that you affirmatively recognize the homophobia and transphobia that motivated this violence, and refrain from defining the shooting as an act of international terrorism—a term reserved in public discourse for acts committed by Muslims. Instead, we ask that you call it what it is: a hate crime against the LGBT community and an act of gun violence.

Although we recognize the tragic nature of the shooting, and the immense fear the shooter caused, the word “terrorist” becomes the norm only when the shooter is Muslim, or perceived as such. As a result, in the wake of 9/11, we have seen devastating hatred towards Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. Those of us who are queer and trans* have been especially vulnerable to violence and backlash. This characterization has resulted in broken noses and bruised bodies. It has blamed and held entire communities responsible for every action associated with those words.

We call on you, our leaders, to remind the public that we must not scapegoat Muslim, South Asian, and Arab communities for the act of one person. Whatever warped justification the shooter may have claimed, his actions are a hate crime. Every religious tradition explicitly condemns the killing of innocent people, but murder knows no faith. We do not want to see our communities live through another surge of harmful policies as a result of the massacre in Orlando. Our LGBT communities will not be used as a justification for Islamophobia, which impacts so many of us.

Alongside dangerous rhetoric, reactionary public policies that trade individual liberties for a façade of security based on fear have led to devastating consequences for Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks. These communities, and especially our queer and trans* community members, have borne the brunt of laws and policies such as the Patriot Act, special registration or NSEERS, arbitrary interrogations, unlawful watch lists, unprecedented rates of detentions and deportations, inappropriate profiling, and surveillance by federal and local law enforcement authorities of mosques, Muslim student associations, restaurants, and cricket and soccer games.

15 years later, we do not want to live through the “spirit of 9/12” yet again. We call on you to curtail policies such as:

  • The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, including intelligence gathering from the Internet and social media, which targets Muslims and has been shown to be ineffective. We are particularly concerned about H.R. 5471, the Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act
  • Expansion of FBI access to a range of revealing and personal details about individuals’ online communications, or Electronic Communications Transactional Records (ECTR)
  • Immigration enforcement that disproportionately profile our communities, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Priority Enforcement Program (PEP)

We ask you to:

  • Roll back existing Countering Violent Extremism programs, especially the “Don’t Be a Puppet” program that asks young people to criminalize each other
  • Issue a guidance from the Department of Homeland Security banning legalized profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity without exemption, including in national security and immigration enforcement. Community organizations have been in conversation with DHS about this guidance for months, but we have not seen a result
  • Promote common sense legislation to keep guns out of dangerous hands, without further criminalizing Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and people with mental health struggles

We request a meeting with you to further discuss these matters. This is a time when we need our leaders to stand with us to denounce prejudice, violence, and policies that inflict harm on any community. Our strength is our unity. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sacramento Coalition
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Brown Boi Project
Collaboryst
Emerge USA
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Freedom Inc
GALA, Inc. (Guam)
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago
Juntos
KhushDC
KmB: Pro-People Youth
MASALA
Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
NAPAFASA
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National CAPACD
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
National LGBTQ Task Force
Pride ASIA
PRIDE Marianas
PrYSM
Q-WAVE
Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
Trikone
Trikone NW
Trikone-Chicago
UMD AASU
UTOPIA Seattle
Veterans For Peace
Veterans For Peace, Milwaukee Chapt. 102
Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC)
VietLEAD
We Belong Together
Witness to Mass Incarceration
18MillionRising.org

NQAPIA Celebrates International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Today’s blog post is brought to you courtesy of NQAPIA Volunteer Luella Garies.  Enjoy!

 

NQAPIA is celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) today on May 17. According to the official website, IDAHO was created in 2004 by an international group of activists to raise global awareness of this issue and encourage people to take action.  The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. IDAHO is now celebrated in over 100 countries around the world and throughout Asia, including in Cambodia, Burma, South Korea, the Philippines, India, and Indonesia.

With homosexuality still illegal in Malaysia, Burma, Singapore and Samoa, with basic federal protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity still elusive in the United States, with same-sex marriage not legalized in most of the U.S. or anywhere in Asia or the Pacific except for New Zealand, and with the majority of Asian/Pacific countries having no laws at all protecting trans/gender non-conforming people, IDAHO is very relevant to our community today.

Recognition of IDAHO in the United States is still growing.  There are a couple of major things happening in the LGBTQ AAPI communities that coincide with / follow IDAHO that we want you to know about.

  • D.C.’s 13th Annual Pride & Heritage Celebration on Saturday, May 18th. Pride & Heritage is a coalition of local organizations celebrating May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and will intentionally recognize IDAHO. Participants include Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS), Asian lslander Queers United for Action (AQUA), KhushDC, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF-DC). This year the event will honor local community leaders Danny Leung, Mala Nagarajan, Vega Subramaniam, and Lan Van.
  • Additional social events are happening this weekend in New York with Q-WAVE and in Los Angeles with GAPSN.

How will you get involved in IDAHO?

Capture IDAHO NDTV