Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seeking a home away from homophobia

In the US, there is an increasing acceptance of sexual orientation as grounds for asylum. It is an emerging field of immigration law in the US, and gays and lesbians from different parts of the world are now becoming aware of this opportunity.

Offering a haven for gays and lesbians,the US government is beginning to deal with an increasing number of asylum applications from this group. Homophobic attitudes or lack of international experience among judges and government officials, which could lead to unfortunate decisions, are of concern. A Mexican national was denied asylum by an immigration judge in 2003 on the grounds that he was obviously not gay. He then appealed last year and he was granted asylum. At the same time, critics of this practice claim that it is impossible to control fraudulent cases. The applicants could pretend to be gay or lesbian when they are really seeking asylum for other reasons.

Being homosexual in different parts of the world is not necessarily easy. Even though Brazilian law forbids discrimination against homosexuals, a total of 116 gays, lesbians, and transvestites were killed last year. India, Uganda, and Jamaica have made homosexuality illegal, and being accused can warrant up to ten years of prison.

Having been granted asylum in the US, Delmy Berganza tells about the difficulties of being a lesbian in El Salvador. She kept her sexuality a secret her whole life after seeing her aunt, and others, be harassed and threatened for being suspected homosexuals. She took her first opportunity to go to the US.

Genesio Oliveira from Brazil was raped at the age of 16 and was living in several countries before he came to the US. Oliveira came to the US in 2002. He has still not been granted asylum because Brazil has antidiscrimination laws. He then went back to his father's funeral in Brazil. He is now preparing a second appeal while living separated from his American spouse.

Link to article: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/10/14/seeking_a_home_away_from_homophobia/?page=2

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