CLASP group forms for LGBT asylum seekers

Sat. March 8, 2014 8:51 AM by Windy City Media Group

andy thayer addresses the press conference

photo credit // tracy baim/wct
Chicago, IL - Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program (CLASP) had its inaugural press conference March 6 at Broadway United Methodist Church.

At the end of January, a coalition of faith leaders and advocates launched CLASP. The organization works to provide a network of support for people who have left their home countries and found their way to Chicago and are applying for asylum.

Due to anti-LGBT laws in countries including Africa, Russia and India, the lives and well-being of LGBT people are threatened. They are forced to escape their home countries, CLASP said. In more than 80 countries, there are laws against being LGBT and in more than 75 countries, a person could be imprisoned, while in seven of those countries, the punishment for being LGBT is the death penalty.

"We have to, as American citizens, be focusing on the problems that we have more control over, what our own administrations are doing whether they're Democratic or Republican—and that's to stop aid to these brutal regimes and open up the borders to asylum seekers rather than closing them down," said Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.

Rev. Lois McCullen Parr of Broadway United Methodist Church hosted the press conference. The panel of speakers sharing their own stories and views also included Thayer, Dennis Ojiyoma Akpona, an asylum seeker from Nigeria and co-founder of the Center for Courageous Living and CLASP; John Ademola Adewoye, a permanent resident through asylum/ Asylee Service provider and co-founder of the Center for Courageous Living and CLASP; Victor Awek, an international HIV and human rights advocate who recently moved from Nigeria and is seeking asylum in the U.S.; and Rachelle Brown from the Metropolitan Community Church movement. 

Read more from Windy City Times

Complete video and photo coverage of the CLASP press conferences on Windy City Times