More complaints filed on treatment of LGBT refugee and immigrant detainees in US

Published: October 27, 2011

Complaints filed this week show that some LGBT detainees in the United States who are refugees, asylum seekers or undocumented are being subjected to inhuman, degrading and in some cases life-threatening treatment.

Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) has filed four more complaints with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), taking it to 17 filed since April.

All of these individuals are seeking protection from persecution in their native countries.

In one new case, a detainee was denied HIV treatment, which can be life-threatening.

Alexis* was detained at Boone County Jail, Kentucky, for two weeks in September then moved to Tri-County Detention Center, Illinois, where he remains. He immediately informed nurses that he was HIV+ and that he believed he had herpes. He has been seen by one doctor but in a public setting where it was unsafe to discuss his HIV status and a private exam was refused. He has still not been given HIV medication despite repeated requests to nurses and at Boone he was denied toothpaste, a toothbrush and soap for a fortnight.

Another new complaint tells of a transgender individual who was arbitrarily held in solitary confinement for 49 days.

The 13 complaints filed in April by NIJC detail instances of rape, sexual violence, misuse of segregation and punitive conditions in solitary confinement, denial of HIV treatment and hormone therapy, as well as pervasive discrimination and humiliation by guards on account of individuals’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

"These latest reports highlight that abuse of vulnerable populations remains a systemic, pervasive problem in the immigration detention system," said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy.

"It is unlawful for the U.S. government to detain individuals that it cannot protect."

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