A gay Iraqi couple have shared their inspiring story on The Ellen Show, proving that true love transcends borders and serving as a timely reminder that those fleeing persecution around the world often identify as LGBT.
Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami met during the Iraq War in 2004, while Nayyef was working as an interpreter for the US Marines, and Btoo was a serving Iraqi soldier.
As they explained to Ellen DeGeneres in an episode of the daytime talk show broadcast last week however, the pair’s love affair was one which could have got them killed in their homeland.
“It’s too difficult being gay in Iraq. Family and friends, everyone, they say being gay is sick,” the couple explained.
“They find out about you and you either get tortured or killed. As our relationship grew, we felt we couldn’t stay.”
Nayyef was eventually granted asylum in the United States, but was forced to endure four years apart from Btoo before his beloved could join him. During that time, they Skyped each other every day, before undergoing an emotional reunion in 2013.
The couple, who are now married, have since dedicated their lives to helping other LGBT refugees who have fled similar persecution back home.
“The LGBT youth who come from the Middle East, we help them with a place to stay, we explain about the culture, because they have culture shock,” Nayyef said
After the couple explained that they were saving up to buy a house and start a family, Ellen surprised the pair with a gift of $25,000 to help make their dreams a reality.
The real kicker in all this though? Under Donald Trump’s temporary migration ban – imposed over the weekend just a day after the episode of Ellen aired – Nayyef and Btoo wouldn’t have been allowed into the United States at all…