Press Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 28, 2007

NCLR Release Comprehensive Publication on Lesbian Asylum

(San Francisco, CA, February 28, 2007) — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced the publication of "The Challenges of Lesbian Asylum Claims," authored by Lena Ayoub Esq., an immigration attorney and Chairperson of NCLR's National Immigration Law Advisory Council. The publication provides a comprehensive analysis of lesbian asylum claims, including practical advice and legal strategies for lesbian asylum seekers. It will be useful both to attorneys and individual applicants, as well as to anyone who wishes to understand the enormous challenges facing women who are targeted for persecution based on sexual orientation in their home countries.

"This publication provides much needed guidance and information to lesbian asylum seekers," said Noemi Calonje, the Director of NCLR's Immigration Project. "As an immigration advocate for the past twelve years, I have seen first hand the challenges that lesbians must overcome in order to bring a successful asylum claim."

Although persecution on account of sexual orientation has been grounds for asylum in the United States since 1990, and even though many lesbians throughout the world suffer discrimination and violence, gay men account for a much greater percentage of successful asylum claims than lesbians. According to Calonje, "Lesbians generally have less access to money and legal representation. They are more likely to face domestic violence and abuse at the hands of family members and community members in the U.S., which may prevent them from seeking legal help. And they must also contend with asylum officers and immigration judges who often are unfamiliar with the realities of anti-lesbian violence and persecution in many countries."

NCLR launched its Immigration Project in 1994 to address the many immigration hurdles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) immigrants. NCLR provides free legal assistance to thousands of LGBT immigrants nationwide, offers free monthly clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area, and provides direct representation to LGBT immigrants in impact cases and individual asylum claims. Additionally, NCLR provides assistance to private attorneys representing LGBT immigrants in proceedings before the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Federal Courts of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. NCLR also works collaboratively with other groups who advocate for LGBT immigrants, including Immigration Equality, which advocates for equal immigration rights for the LGBT and HIV-positive community.

Ayoub is an experienced California attorney who has successfully represented clients seeking immigration relief and legalization before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and federal courts. She has dedicated her legal career to litigating and advocating on behalf of international human rights and immigrants, and has specific expertise in defending individuals fleeing persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, sexual orientation, and gender. She is a consultant to NCLR's Immigration Project, as well as a former NCLR staff attorney.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

media contacts:


Erik Olvera
Director of Communications
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x324

Bethany Woolman
Communications Associate
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x305


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