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Town Hall for LGBT Immigrants

A town hall meeting on issues facing lesbian, gay and transgender immigrants next week will raise the profile of a group whose concerns are sometimes overlooked by both the gay rights and the immigrant rights movements, organizers say.

The program, Tuesday, June 12, 6 p.m., at Acme Art Works, 1741 N. Western, is the first of a series of events planned by the Chicago LGBTQ Immigrant Alliance (CLIA), a coalition that held its first town hall meeting last year.

“Immigration reform is among the most intensely debated topics today,” said Yasmin Nair of CLIA, “but many immigrants who identify as LGBTQ find that their stories and struggles with immigration are not reflected in the national debate.”

Jonathan Eoloff of the National Immigrant Justice Center will discuss prospects for the increasing number of people seeking asylum in the U.S. because they face persecution in their home countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Debanuj DasGupta of Queers for Economic Justice will speak about the ban on immigration by people with HIV.

The HIV ban is counterproductive, Nair argues, since it “stigmatizes people with HIV” and often “drives them underground,” discouraging immigrants from seeking testing and treatment for fear of deportation, and thus contributing to the spread of the disease.

The CLIA town hall is co-sponsored by the Association of Latino Men for Action, Amigas Latinas, Latinos Progresando, Orgullo en Acción, Radio Arte/Homofrecuencia and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

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