A 21 year old Nicaraguan man has been denied asylum in Canada because the country's Immigration and Refugee Board did not believe that he was gay, says today's Globe and Mail.
Alvaro Antonio Orozco (pictured) who says he was 12 when he ran away from his home in Nicaragua, describes a harrowing journey through Mexico and across the Rio Grande into the United States, where he was captured by immigration authorities and spent close to a year being held in a Houston detention center. He was released after agreeing to return to Nicaragua on his own volition.
Instead he made his way to Toronto in 2005 after finding out through the internet that the country offered asylum to immigrants based on fear of persecution based on sexual orientation (he says that he never applied for asylum in the United States because a religious institution that offered him assitance as an immigrant warned him against it). It was only in Canada, he says, that he was able to finally come out and live as a gay man.
Unfortunately his previous life in the closet became an issue for the Immigration and Refugee Board as they ruled not to grant asylum "because he wasn't sexually active during his teen years, and wasn't clear about his sexual orientation when he fled Nicaragua at the age of 12."
His lawyer, El Farouk Khaki, says that the ruling exposes the Board's prejudiced view that gay teens are more sexually active than their heterosexual counterparts. He will ask the country's Immigration Minister, Diane Finely, to grant a stay of removal on humanitarian grounds. He will also seek to reopen the refugee claim "arguing there was a breach of natural justice because the member failed to consider guidelines on treatment of a vulnerable person."
If those last minute appeals fail, Mr. Orozco will be sent back to Nicaragua on Tuesday, a country which still considers sodomy a crime.
Mr. Khaki, for his part, was honored at last year's 2nd Annual Pride Toronto Gala and Awards for his work as a founder of the LGBT Muslim group Salaam Canada.