Winning Asylum cases tougher for those who are not “gay enough”

January 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some gay refugees and their advocates are complaining that they can be penalized for not outwardly expressing their sexuality. Homosexuals seeking asylum may risk being dismissed as not being gay enough. The very notion of “gay enough,” of course, or proving one’s sexuality through appearance, dress and demeanor, can be offensive — and increasingly androgynous fashions and the social trend known as metrosexuality have blurred identities in many people’s minds. “Judges and immigration officials are adding a new hurdle in gay asylum cases that an applicant’s homosexuality must be socially visible,” said Lori Adams, a lawyer at Human Rights First. “The rationale is that if you don’t look obviously gay, you can go home and hide your sexuality and don’t need to be worried about being persecuted.” Jhuan Marrero, 18, who was born in Venezuela but has lived — illegally — in New York since he was 4, said the immigration officer at his asylum interview last week challenged him about his macho demeanor. “I was brought up by my parents to walk and talk like a man,” said Mr. Marrero, who volunteers at the Queens Pride House, a gay and lesbian center in Jackson Heights. “The officer said: ‘You’re not a transsexual. You don’t look gay. How are you at risk?’ I insisted that if I was sent back to Venezuela, I would speak out about being gay and suffer the consequences.” Victoria Neilson, legal director of the New York-based Immigration Equality, which provides assistance to asylum seekers, recalled the case of a 21-year-old lesbian who had been threatened with gang rape in her native Albania to cure her of her sexuality, but was initially denied asylum, Ms. Neilson said, because she was young, attractive and single, apparently not conforming to the officer’s stereotype of a lesbian. A judge later granted her asylum, Ms. Neilson said. (excerpts from ny times)

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You are currently reading Winning Asylum cases tougher for those who are not “gay enough” at Harlan York and Associates Immigration Lawyer Team 973.642.1111.

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