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Mova (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

The D.C. LGBT Community Center held a fundraiser Jan. 8 at MOVA to launch a new program to assist LGBT foreign nationals who apply for U.S. political asylum to escape persecution in their home countries.

The program, called Center Global, is aimed at providing temporary housing, financial assistance and referrals to service providers for LGBT foreigners in the D.C. area who are going through the complicated process of applying for and awaiting approval for political asylum, according to Center director David Mariner and Center Global coordinator Matthew Corso.

The two noted that legal groups have long provided pro bono legal representation for people going through this process, some of whom have fled their home countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Jamaica after encountering violent assaults and death threats due to their sexual orientation.

But those going through the legal process are banned from working in the U.S. until their asylum application is approved, making it difficult for them to pay for housing, food and other basic necessities, Mariner and Corso said.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do is raise the funds to help support the folks who are here going through this process,” said Corso. “We also want to raise awareness within the D.C. LGBT community of the plight of LGBT people being persecuted in other countries around the world.”