As of May 2015, IRQR was able to help process more than 1135 refugee applications since 2005. Approximately 70% of refugees who approached IRQR were successfully granted refugee status. Here are some of their stories.
Amirhossein is an 18 years-old Iranian gay. His main problem in Iran was sexism: people thought of him as a feminine person. Consequently he could not live in Iran or have the freedom to do what he wanted. His family was aware about his sexual orientation and knew that he had a boyfriend but they did not want to believe that the relationship was a sexual one. As soon as they found out that he was sexually active, they wanted to change him. They wanted to cure him and took him to a doctor for electroshock therapy. His boyfriend’s family filed a complaint against him, which made life impossible for Amirhossein. He escaped Iran because he did not want to be persecuted for who he is. He does not have his family’s support so living in Turkey is very difficult for him especially as a teenager. He was subjected to abuse and was even raped and he finds no protection. He believes having the support of organizations like IRQR is very important but still IRQR can do more to provide for refugees like him so that he can live in less fear for his safety, even for his life.
Vahid is 26 years old. His main problem in Iran was his family especially his dad who beat him up, terrorized and ridiculed him. He lost the vision in his right eye because of his father’s physical abuse. The family also wanted to force him to marry. His employer found out about his sexual orientation as well and he became a victim of sexual abuse. His mother asked him several times to swear on the Quran, that he is not a homosexual; he did swear, but only to avoid upsetting his mother. Despite this, his father insisted that he leave home because he was dishonouring the family. He escaped Iran to Turkey because he did not want to be forced to marry a girl. He was not safe at home and now in Turkey he has a lot of financial problems. He cannot find a good job because of his blindness in one eye and he has to work as a labour. He has to carry fabrics that are over 60 lbs and as a result he got a lot of back pains as well. He believes the current number of refugees is more than the IRQR can support without more resources and support.
Saye is a 29-year-old male to female transgender. Her main problem was the lack of basic rights and support from her society and even her family. Her family, that she loves dearly, abandoned her. She misses her brother, even though he would beat her to make her change what she knew to be her correct gender identity, not knowing that it was not her choice. She could not continue her education in Iran and be true to her gender identity. She could not work because everyone expected her to act like a “man”. Everyone looked at her as someone with a disease. She had a difficult life as a refugee in Turkey. There were a lot of days that she had no food. There were a lot of days that she was sick, but she could not go to the doctor because she did not have the money. She wishes her family a happy and healthy life, despite their being unkind to her.. IRQR was a beacon of hope for Saye because she did not have anyone to listen to her worries or to help her live freely.
Saeed is a 39-year-old Iranian gay man. He fled to Turkey because he did not have basic rights as a human being in Iran. His personal life was a subject of harassment by his society. He knew if his neighbours found out about his relationship with another man, he would be reported to police and face persecution and potentially execution for who he is. His family abandoned him when they found out about his sexual orientation. He escaped Iran because he did not want to be arrested and killed. Nor did he want to become suicidal when there was no way to survive. He cannot go back to Iran because he does not want to be executed. He lives in small Turkish cities where he cannot get employment because he is a foreigner. He wants to live somewhere safe where there is no discrimination. He just wants to have a job and a roof above his head; he does not expect a lot. IRQR helped him to expedite his process and he expects IRQR to raise awareness, not only among people but also governments because they have no support.
Hassan is 40 years-old Iranian gay. His main problem in Iran was lack of safety and security. He was physically and mentally abused. He had tolerated a lot of anxiety in Iran because of its homophobic society. He described his relationship with his family very cold and painful. He escaped Iran to Turkey where raped and abused by two drunk Turkish guys and the authorities did not give him any support. He finally made it here to Canada and currently is a student and works in a gay business. He believes that the IRQR was the biggest support leave out when he was in Turkey.
Mehdi is a 37-year-old Iranian gay man who escaped to Sweden. The Swedish Migration Board rejected his asylum claim. In Iran, he was forced to get married and had to pretend to be a heterosexual person. When his wife found out about his sexual orientation and relationship with another man, everything fell apart. He lost his family, his kids, everything that he had. Still, his family is trying to work with Swedish police in order to get him deported to Iran. His father wants him dead because he believes that Mehdi is dishonoring him. He does not have the support of Iranians in Sweden and truly misses his son. He is an activist in Sweden and wants to stop hate in Iran. Through IRQR, he was able to find other groups to get involved with and fight for his rights. He considers himself and all of those who had no option but to get married, a victim of the ignorance of others.
Javad is a 37-year-old Iranian gay man. He lived in fear for all of his life. His family found out about his sexual orientation, which led to a lot of serious problems with them. He escaped Iran with his partner because they did not feel safe being who they are. He still lives in fear in Turkey because homosexuality is not considered acceptable among Turkish people. He dreams of living somewhere without the fear of being mocked. He was one of IRQR’s refugees and thinks IRQR was very helpful during his journey to achieve his freedom.
Parisa and Mehran
Parisa is a married trans woman. Parisa and her husband Mehran are both engineers. They had to escape Iran and seek refuge in Turkey because her husband’s family found out about her sexual reassignment surgery and they were very angry. They believed she seduced their son, somehow made him gay, which they think is a great sin and brought shame on their family. They have been married for several years and they love each other deeply. After their escape they were granted refugee status by the UNHCR who then they referred them to the United States for resettlement. They were scheduled to have their resettlement interview with the US immigration officer on February 28th 2017 but President Trump’s travel ban dashed their hopes and the interview was indefinitely cancelled. Mehran has to work so believably hard to even meet their basic needs. He only gets 8 USD per day for 12 hours work. It is a picture of him at work where he grinds down metal parts, a job that no one in Turkey is willing to do because it is so dangerous for the lungs and breathing. For this he works for slavery pay without safety tools. Every extra day they are denied their resettlement interview puts his life in danger at work and both their lives in danger because of the terrible homophobia in Turkey.