If the city an LGBT person lives in repeals the portion of their nondiscrimination ordinance which specifically applies to LGBTQ+ individuals, can that person become a refugee and where could they go?

Along those same lines, specific subsets of LGBT people have greater difficulty climbing out of poverty & debt than non-LGBT individuals in the same circumstances—even more so for ethnic minorities. And if you happen to fall ill, then you can say goodbye to your supposed unalienable right to life.

While corruption between businesses and members of government in the US is finally becoming more widely recognized, it is either legal or rarely prosecuted. These officials then make laws that directly or indirectly harm the middle class and/or the impoverished in order to help corporate "persons."

Those who speak up find themselves removed from positions of power. US leadership are stoking violence by both extreme nationalists as well as anti-fascists. Our police force has been militarized and they are targeting certain individuals more than others. Our prisons are full of people who were caught getting high to escape the pain of poverty. Meanwhile, many violent offenders go free; there is a violent crime committed every 25.3 seconds in the US. There is a civil war brewing in the US and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and the impoverished have been the first casualties. We did not choose to be born into this country under it's laws.

Considering the above, can a US citizen claim refugee status? How? To what country could we go?

  • Could you link to this ordinance? Or is this a hypothetical situations?
    – hszmv
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:01
  • The overall situation is hypothetical, but the repeal of that section of the ordinance is real. The only reason I won't link it is because I have no intention of revealing my location to the entire Internet. Apr 11, 2018 at 14:06
  • So if the situation is real, it's better to link it in either a national level or state level publication. Unless the town has a population under 500, I doubt anyone will know who you are or care.
    – hszmv
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:18
  • Additionally, are there no court challenges to the repeal? The ACLU has not stepped in and is on the case? No protesting?
    – hszmv
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:28
  • I have been doxed in past and had to create an entirely new online identity. I don't want to go through that again. Searching a direct quote of the repealed ordinance gives away more info than I am comfortable with. I will reword it: Apr 12, 2018 at 3:36

3 Answers 3



The repeal of pro-LGBT legislation is not sufficient. To be a refugee you must have a real and imminent fear of persecution which is generally defined to include matters like bodily harm or arbitrary detention or seizure of property on account of your status.

The generalized protections existing under the law from private violence and civil rights violations in the U.S., while imperfect, is not going to suffice as a general matter to establish refugee status, particularly because many of those protections arise under federal law.

A generalized fear of a "civil war" someday, and a general dissatisfaction with the amount of corruption present in the government and the bad policies of the government, in the United States, is not sufficient.

Also, the United States is a free immigration zone, which means that people can freely travel and relocate to other parts of the United States, and while some places in the United States might be quite unfriendly to LGBT individuals, there are other places in the United States that are much more welcoming both in theory, based upon enacted laws, and in practice.

For example, in Colorado, there are state anti-discrimination laws, one of the leading candidates for Governor is a gay man who is currently one of our Congressmen, we have had lesbian speakers of the state house, a high official in Denver's school district is a gay man who was a former state legislator, and a DA in a fairly conservative suburb of Denver vigorously prosecuted and obtained a conviction against a man who murdered a transwoman on account of her trans-status including a hate crime count, and a transman serves in the U.S. military in one of the state's federal military bases. When I walk the halls of my children's high school in Denver, the walls are full of official administration proclamations of support for LGBT students that is backed up by action and reflected in how my children's many LGBT friends were treated in their school. Denver's clerk's office proudly proclaims that it marries hundreds, if not thousands, of same sex couples every year.

This doesn't mean life is perfect in Colorado, but it isn't official persecution of the kind that would rise to refugee status either. And, since anyone in the U.S. can move to Colorado or other relatively LGBT friendly states, there would not be any ground to claim refugee status. Canada, for example, would not admit someone as a refugee based upon persecution for LGBT status if that person did not demonstrate that they could not escape persecution by moving to metropolitan Denver or San Francisco or New York City.

The U.S. is not necessarily the very best place in the world to be LGBT, but it is certainly near the top, despite the fact that the struggle for LGBT rights is ongoing and will be indefinitely and it isn't perfect.

  • "People can freely travel and relocate to other parts of the United States" I don't know why I didn't think of this, but it is a good response. Perhaps I can relocate to CO or the West Coast before it gets really bad here. However, you didn't mention how this effects the impoverished (e.g., the poor can't simply drive to CO and start a new life). More importantly you haven't addressed the very real risk of violence we live in fear of every day ( splinternews.com/… ). Apr 11, 2018 at 5:08
  • Regarding civil war, how many people need to be murdered before we recognize (meaning official recognition by other countries) that it has already begun? Furthermore, this country has more guns per capita than anywhere else. By the time the international community realizes what has happened it may be too late for us. Apr 11, 2018 at 5:11
  • 3
    @RubelliteFae Refugee status refers to a right to not be expelled from someplace you have managed to reach somehow, not a right to deliverance from a bad place. The world is a dangerous place and not equally dangerous for everyone. But, that does not amount to persecution in the sense that it justifies refugee status. You need something closer to systemic genocide organized by and endorsed by the government. It is clear that you are in a dark place at the moment, but the law has more equanimity.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 11, 2018 at 5:19
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Apr 13, 2018 at 2:20

Leaving aside the specific circumstances facing LGBT+ people in the US, yes, US citizens can and have applied for refugee status or asylum in the past. Wikipedia has a small category page listing some, the highest profile being Edward Snowden, though he so far has only been offered temporary asylum.

Note that the definition of a refugee requires you to have left your country of citizenship. People affected by local or state oppression who move to a safer part of the same country are called "internally displaced persons".

  • Most of these (not all) seem to be people who fled from the USA for some reason, with very few receiving refugee status or asylum.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2018 at 15:16
  • @gnasher Agreed. As is the case in many countries, the US does not make a habit of oppressing its citizens, so they very rarely qualify as refugees. Hopefully that will remain the case. Apr 12, 2018 at 15:30
  • @curiousdannii "the US does not make a habit of oppressing its citizens" What is your basis for this claim? It is contrary to the experiences of many people I know or have read about. What is the legal definition of oppression? Apr 12, 2018 at 20:15

I'm quite sure that you cannot be a refugee in your own country.

Should you go for example to Germany and try to claim asylum, you will find that they have a list of countries where asylum will be rejected out of hand without checking your case, and I'm quite sure the USA will be on that list.

Concerning the number of gun deaths: Since two thirds of all US gun deaths are suicides, you can eliminate two thirds of the risk for yourself by not owning a gun.

And at this point I would suggest that anyone living in Syria will consider this whole discussion to be deeply insulting. Or is there anyone reducing your neigbourhood to a pile of rubble? When was the last time you suffered a gas attack? That's the kind of people that Germany will accept as refugees. It's astonishing that you would see yourself in the same category.

  • 1
    Is there an official list for that in Germany?
    – user6726
    Apr 11, 2018 at 20:45
  • Probably yes, but I wouldn't know how to find it. When I read about this, examples on the list were countries like France, where you have the right to enter Germany anyway (so you are not going to be deported), but you won't be able to claim asylum. So the OP will have no problems entering Germany and probably be able to stay there, but no chance of claiming refugee status.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 11, 2018 at 21:50
  • 2
    Unfortunately it's a matter of legal definition. Syrian citizens displaced from their homes to other parts of Syria may be in as much trouble as those living in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon etc, but they may be ineligible for some international aid. Apr 12, 2018 at 5:48
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Apr 13, 2018 at 2:21

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