August 15, 2017 at 11:36 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
EXCLUSIVE: Libya LGBT activist receives asylum in Germany

Benghazi, Libya, gay news, Washington Blade

An LGBT rights activist from the Libyan city of Benghazi has received asylum in Germany. (Photo by Shaltut; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

An LGBT rights activist from the Libyan city of Benghazi has received asylum in Germany.

The activist, who asked the Washington Blade not to publish his name, on Monday said during an exclusive interview from Berlin that he arrived in Germany in May.

The activist said he applied for asylum less than two weeks ago with the help of Amnesty International. The activist told the Blade those who seek asylum in Germany typically wait up to a year to hear whether the government has approved their request.

“Today I was surprised,” said the activist. “[The government] gave me an answer very fast, within 10 days, and they granted me full asylum.”

The activist told the Blade the German government also granted asylum to his partner.

Benghazi, which is on the Mediterranean Sea, is Libya’s second largest city. It is located roughly 400 miles east of the country’s capital of Tripoli.

The activist studied medicine before becoming a journalist. He told the Blade in previous interviews that LGBT people in Benghazi faced increased threats since Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster in 2011.

Members of Ansar al-Sharia, which is an al-Qaida affiliate, killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans during a raid on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. The activist said three Islamic militants in 2014 shot at him after they tried to steal his car.

Militants with the so-called Islamic State — which has publicly executed men who were accused of sodomy — in 2015 clashed with the Libyan Army in an attempt to take control of Benghazi.

The activist told the Blade the militants who attacked him in 2014 later swore allegiance to ISIS. He also said he knows people who have been killed by militia members because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“You had people who hated the LGBT community before,” the activist told the Blade during a 2016 interview from Tunisia where he was attending a human rights conference. “Now we can’t do anything without being afraid. Everyone has guns. It’s very easy to kill them.”

“The LGBT community is an easy target,” he added.

U.S. travel ban includes Libya

European Union statistics indicate the Germany in 2016 granted refugee status to 256,136 people. The majority of them came from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iran.

Libya is among the countries included in President Trump’s executive order that bans the issuance of visas to people from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. The activist told the Blade he did not seek asylum in the U.S. because “I didn’t get (a) chance.”

“Also it was difficult because Trump didn’t allow it,” he said.

Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

An LGBT rights advocate in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2016 commemorated Pride month in his apartment with a handwritten sign. (Photo submitted)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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