FAQ

What is ORAM?

ORAM is a pioneer in the protection of exceptionally vulnerable refugees. We are a thought leader trusted by governments, international agencies, aid organizations and refugees alike. ORAM enables the international community to protect exceptionally vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. We deliver cutting edge research, tools, publications, training and empirically based assessment programs to refugee professionals, institutions and governments around the world. Our essential work safeguards integrity and capacity in international refugee protection.

Who does ORAM serve?

ORAM is currently providing representation and assistance to exceptionally vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, including sexual and gender minorities. We serve our clients without regard to race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age or political persuasion. We work to assure the safety and security of all persons who fall within our mission.

Is ORAM affiliated with any governments or groups?

As an independent organization, ORAM is not affiliated with any government, institution or other official agency. We cooperate with a variety of organizations assisting refugees and asylum seekers and advocating for their rights. ORAM works only with organizations which have a proven record of the highest ethics and commitment to refugees and asylum seekers.

With the goal of protecting refugees who fall within our mandate, ORAM regularly interacts constructively with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR is the principal intergovernmental agency charged with protecting refugees and asylum seekers.

To whom is ORAM’s refugee advocacy directed? How?

ORAM’s advocacy is directed at all segments of the international community which affect the fate of refugees. These include governments, government agencies, and inter-governmental organizations, which determine refugee policy and adjudications. Also included are non-governmental organizations which care for refugees and asylum seekers. ORAM directs its advocacy and education efforts toward community groups, academia, religious and civic institutions, the media, industry and professional groups.

Our work is conducted by way of professional training, individual client representation, public speaking, publications and other means likely to affect systemic change as well as positive results in individual refugee cases.

Where does ORAM operate?

ORAM is based in San Francisco, California (USA). We conduct our advocacy, education, and related work from and in San Francisco and Washington D.C. (USA), Ankara (UNHCR Turkey), Tel Aviv (Israel) and other locations as needed.

How did ORAM begin?

ORAM was founded in 2008 in response to a growing outcry that sexual and gender-based refugees in the Middle East region were systematically endangered and under-protected. Our field currently focuses on this region, even as our advocacy has spanned the globe.

Does ORAM help refugees escape or enter certain countries?

ORAM cannot help refugees leave their countries of persecution. We assist only those who have already left those countries by helping them apply for refugee status. Later, once our clients have been officially recognized as refugees, we assist with lawful resettlement to safe, third countries.

Does ORAM stop the persecution of LGBTIs or help victims of persecution inside their countries of origin?

ORAM can sometimes protect refugee clients from being returned to their countries of origin, but we cannot improve the abuse in those countries. At the same time, we carry out our work in the hope that exposure of the plight of LGBTI refugees will show that hatred based on sexual orientation and gender identity results in persecution and murder.

Victims of persecution can seldom be helped by foreign organizations or governments while they are still inside their countries of origin. However, those persons can be empowered and emboldened by the knowledge that help is available once they reach the relative safety of a third country.

Organizations and institutions working to stop abuse of LGBTIs in countries of persecution include OutRight Action Internationalthe United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Who finances ORAM’s work?

ORAM’s funding is provided by philanthropic organizations, individuals, and international institutions.

Does ORAM’s charge a fee for its direct client representation services?

All ORAM’s services are offered to clients absolutely free of charge. If anyone asks you to pay for any ORAM service, you should refuse. Let us know about it immediately by writing info@oraminternational.org.

How does ORAM obtain its information about persecution in various countries?

We get some of our information from a variety of NGOs, watchdog agencies, governments and inter-governmental agencies. But most of our information comes from supporters and LGBTI individuals worldwide who dare to speak the truth.

What is the difference between an “asylum seeker” and a “refugee?” Does ORAM help people in both situations?

A “refugee” is someone who is outside his or her own country and has been recognized to have a well-founded fear of persecution in that country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals are generally considered “members of a social group.” If these persons fear persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, they can qualify for “refugee” status.

“Asylum seeker” generally refers to a person who has applied for status as a “refugee” outside his or her country of origin, but whose application is still pending.

ORAM assists both asylum seekers and refugees.

Are donations to ORAM tax deductible?

Donations to ORAM are fully tax-deductible in the United States only under section 170 of the US Federal Internal Revenue Code.

How can I contact ORAM?

We want to hear from you. Whether you wish to volunteerdonate, host a workshop or lecture, or make a general comment, we are here to inform and serve you and ORAM’s refugee clients.