Record Number of LGBT Asylum Victories, Most from Jamaica

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Immigration Equality, a national organization that helps obtain asylum for individuals persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV-status, announced today that its legal and pro bono teams won a record 101 cases in 2010. An overwhelming number of those wins – 38 – were for clients from the Caribbean, with 28 of those for individuals from Jamaica. Other cases included 24 asylum seekers from Central and South America; 16 from Eastern Europe (including seven Russian clients); nine from the African continent and five from the Middle East.

“For too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the world remains a dangerous place,” said Rachel B. Tiven, the group’s executive director. “In many cases, the clients who turn to Immigration Equality for help are literally running for their lives. They have been mistreated and beaten by authorities in their home country, disowned by their families and ostracized by society. By offering them safe haven, the United States is not only saving their lives, but benefitting from the talent, skills and service these asylees bring to our country. We are proud, and honored, to help them begin life anew here in their adopted homeland.”

Since the mid-1990s, the United States has recognized persecution due to sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis for seeking asylum. However, the United States immigration law has yet to recognize same sex couples as legitimate marriages that would allow Unites States Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to file family based petitions on behalf of their spouses. Since January 2010 HIV is no longer a bar to applying for permanent residence.

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-Sheila I Vélez Martínez

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About Sheila Velez Martinez

Visiting Clinical Professor Immigration Law Clinic University of Pittsburgh - School of Law 210 South Bouquet Street - Sennott square - Room 5211 Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Telephone: 412-383-9897 Fax: 412-648-1947 Mailing Address: University of Pittsburgh School of Law P.O. Box 7226 Pittsburgh, PA 15213-0221
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