an LGTBI love in search of refuge

Ocean He fled Iran over sexual identity issues. He had a lot of problems with his family, with friends, and with the government. “I had no choiceI had to run out of there.”, the Mint. Since 2016 she lives in Turkey with international protection, she considers herself a non-binary person. There he met the one who is now his partner, Nilraama young Iranian woman also a refugee due to sexual orientation.

Iran is considered one of the most repressive countries in the world towards LGTBI people, homosexuality is illegal and is punishable by death. But the situation in Turkeythe country that welcomes Ocean and Nilram it’s not easy either. Although homosexuality is legal, it is rejected by a large part of society and LGBTI people suffer all kinds of discrimination and violence.

“Actually, living in Turkey is the same as living in Iran, it’s so difficult, as hard as living in Iran being LGBTI, there’s not that much difference,” says Ocean, who tells RNE that he has lived with Nilram for 5 years. “She is my wife” she affirms.

Ocean, Iranian LGTBI refugee Minverva Bear (RNE)

A broken love since Ocean was resettled in Spain six months ago. “Arriving in Spain was very difficult, I had to live 5 years in Turkey without knowing if I was going to be able to go to a safe countryThey have been the hardest years of my life.“, the Mint.

It arrived at the end of 2020 by resettlement, a way in which States transfer refugees from the country where they sought protection to a safe third country to offer them a durable solution. A solidarity mechanism that also facilitates this protection “when the security or rights of people are at risk in the country in which they requested protection,” he explains. Carla Amadorlawyer of the NGO Rescue.

Spain has offered up to 1,200 resettlement places in 2022, About 600 people have arrived so far, most of them Syrian refugees transferred from Lebanon, although there are five Iranians who have been resettled from Turkey.

Ocean asked to be transferred with his partner and UNHCR knew that She was an LGBTI refugeebut given the impossibility of proving that they were married, he had to come to Spain alone.

“It is very complicated with UNHCR, they do not collaborate, they told me that I had to come and once here bring my partner,” he adds.

From the beginning he said that he did not want to be resettled if he did not come with his partner”, emphasizes Carla Amador, Ocean’s lawyer. From the NGO Rescate, specialized in accompanying people persecuted for belonging to the LGTBI collective, they are looking for all possible ways to bring Nilram to Spain.

“The first few months were full of uncertainty because we had no information of any kind. Later, UNHCR even tells us that there will not be a new resettlement for at least 2 years and Ocean went into a very big slump,” says Amador.

Ocean suffers from anxiety. “I’m in love with my partner, it’s a serious loveif I knew that we were going to be apart for so long, I would not have come to Spain. I thought it would be for a short time, in the end we are a family, we are a marriage, “insists Ocean, who since he arrived he has asked to bring his wife by all possible means.

“I can’t access any official at the asylum office, there is only one email address that no one answers meeveryone ignores me“, the Mint.

Nilram’s situation in Turkey

Nilram has thyroid cancer and is emotionally unwell. He lives in a very small city in Turkey, in a difficult neighborhood, with a lot of homophobia. “A very religious city in which it is very difficult to live,” says Ocean.

“She has to be home all the time, if she goes out she can have problems with anyone. They know she’s a lesbian and there are common beatings, insults, discrimination of all kinds“, details the lawyer.

She cannot move freely around the country due to her refugee status. “She only goes out to do the shopping or to go to the doctor,” says Amador. Apart from thyroid cancer she has a heart problem, she feels bad physically. “At the mental health level, she is not well at all, she has had several suicide attempts and it is a very complicated situation,” adds the lawyer from the Rescate organization.

Plan B

Once resettled, Ocean cannot return to Turkey for three yearsNot visiting either. “When we think about the future we have nothing clear.” One of the ways they have explored is a marriage by proxy to be able to prove the family bond. “We spoke with the Spanish consulate in Istanbul, but they told us that it was not feasible,” explains Carla Amador.

“There is a legal figure that prevents consulates from opposing the laws of the country and If they can’t get married in Turkey, the consulate can’t marry them.and they would also have to be the two Spanish nationals,” continues the lawyer.

Once marriage by proxy has been ruled out, they have chosen to present evidence proving the family bond and thus be able to request family extension, a figure contemplated by the Asylum Law.

“They had joint registration for a long time, many photos, mails to entities in Turkey in which it appears that they are a couple,” says Amador.

The documentation has already been sent to the Office of Refuge and Asylum and now they are waiting for an answer.

The expectations are not very good in the short term, they will have to wait to be able to meet. Both the recognition of family extension and the resettlement are long and it may take up to two years for them to meet again.

Meanwhile, Ocean is studying Spanish and wants to take training courses. In Iran he worked as an air conditioning technician and driver.

“Emotionally I feel terrible, exhausted, my body is here in Spain, but my soul is in Turkey. Spain is a great country, very interestingwith a living body in Spain, but with a soul in Turkey”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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